Journalistic integrity questioned
To the Editor:
After great disappointment in your initial article on the Hodges trial on August 27, 2009, I was even more outraged by the second article on September 3, 2009, which furthered its approach of sensationalism, biased tones, and inaccurate reporting on the part of Colby Dunn, as well as approval of such an article by Patrick Yost.
Regardless of your smug opinion, I attended the trial five out of six days, and felt that, based on the testimony I heard, Colby Dunn formed her opinion long before ever showing up. The defense had a very strong case based on a condition suffered by the accused called “parasomnia”. A case based on an act that occurred during sleep, verified by the victim, and was never at a level to which criminal charges should have been filed. A case that was not only recognized by the people that attended the trial and listened to evidence, but more importantly acknowledged by the twelve jurors that lead to a not-guilty verdict.
After looking through your archives, I cannot find any trial you covered to this extent. Why them and why now? I also question your choice of photographs. Of all the photographs that were taken during that span, ones more indicative of the emotion & true state of the trial, you pick two nondescript photos of the accused & his wife smiling & talking on a cell phone. I saw your photographer & the photographs that were taken. Many great photographs were shot. The ones you chose were provocative and again validated your slant. Perhaps that is your intent - selling newspapers at whatever cost, even if that means to the detriment of the subject matter.
One of your many inaccurate statements quoted in the last article was that the jury deliberated for two-and-a-half hours. Why add an additional hour? From the time the judge read the charges and informed the jurors of their responsibilities until the moment the verdict was read it was one-and-a-half hours. Regardless of what your intentions are for misrepresenting the time lapse, neither is a very long deliberation time for a jury, which speaks volumes in the unanimous & unwavering decision of a not-guilty verdict.
The families associated with this case have suffered under unimaginable circumstances for 18 months. A family separated and tormented. What happened to our country’s posture of being “innocent until proven guilty.” I certainly did not hear that tone from Colby Dunn’s articles. Now that the trial is behind them, & they can start their lives over, they deserve the right to do so. Your initial article sparked threats & slanderous comments against the Hodges by many people in the county. The very same people who have victimized this family are people who never showed up for one day of testimony. They did not hear one day of evidence that was presented. I blame your biased, cynical, and poorly-reported articles. The articles’ cynicism and sensationalism has only exasperated the intense hardships for a family who has been reunited due to truth and justice. What happened to journalistic integrity?
Mary Anne Leathers