The article I published yesterday has received some criticism over whether or not it should have been published, so I thought I would address it here. I debated with myself whether or not to publish that post, and I knew there would be some who disagreed with my decision. However, I stand by my post.
The crux of the issue is this: Are Jame and Dianne Critchlow public figures? If so, the things they do more easily qualify as news. Imagine if a Missouri elected official was accused of the actions detailed in the post; it would clearly be news. On the other hand, if Joe Schmoe did these things, it would not qualify as news (unless he was charged with a crime, in which case it would be in the papers).
Some say that the Critchlows ceased being public figures when the left the school district. I disagree. Case in point, Jamie’s DWI charges, which came after he was fired from Fox, were reported in the Leader (on the front page), so they clearly thought he was newsworthy then. The case is not yet closed on the transgressions that thrust the Critchlows into the public spotlight: the state audit report on the Fox district has not yet been released (which should happen next month). For reference, the St. Joseph district audit was released a year ago, but the FBI is still investigating the widespread fraud that took place there. A Leader article a while back indicated that any potential prosecutorial action regarding the Fox district is waiting until after the audit report comes out. So it is clear that the Critchlow scandals at Fox have not reached their resolution.
Despite this, many (primarily those in leadership positions) want to forget all about the scandal, to put it behind us. And to do that they want to pretend the Critchlows have disappeared. They claim that would be best for the district. But the fact is, only through confession, restitution, and punishment can we move on from this scandal. There has been very little accountability in all this, from the assistant superintendents to the school board to the main scandal participants themselves. A settlement was paid in the Ferry vs. Critchlow libel lawsuit, but it was paid at least in part (and probably in full) by the district’s insurance company (acting as insurer of the defendants). And sweeping it all under the rug only prevents reckoning, and thus prevents closure and reform (the Leader has helped with the sweeping).
Furthermore, we must remember that there are a lot of dumb school boards (as we are painfully aware). It is not inconceivable that another district could hire the Critchlows. Pearson, the company that is trying to take over public education, hired Dianne to do MAP site visits, even after all the scandals (hopefully, my reporting snuffed that out). If the Caruthersville school district can hire a fired superintendent who is under FBI investigation, anything can happen. So my reporting might prevent another school district from doing something stupid.
Won’t Someone Think of the Children?
The objection to my blog post was that it hurts the children involved in the cited custody dispute by giving it publicity. And I sympathize with that. I omitted a fair amount of information from the post to avoid getting into unnecessary details. But one can page through the newspaper every day and find people who did bad things. Many of those people have children. News cannot be suppressed because a perpetrator has children, and as I outlined above, I believe my post qualifies as news. Not embarrassing one’s family is one reason that many of us try to stay out of trouble. However, throughout these scandals, the Critchlows have demonstrated little regard for the reputation of their last name (and little regard for the children of their victims). Ultimately, the harm that is done falls upon their shoulders, not those who report on them.