Once again I am befuddled at the complete lack of ability of the local media. In this case, the Centre Daily Times in State College, PA. In reporting crime for the past week they have two stories that just serve to literally “beg the question.”
Story 1: Alleged Kidnappers Surrender to Police. In this story 3 men (without description) are said to have lured a 21 y.o. woman into their van and sexually assaulted her. While the report was filed after 2 AM, there is no hint as to when the abduction and assault occurred. Oh–and the three men apparently surrendered to police on their own.
Is anyone surprised that the comment section is rife with people challenging every aspect of the story? Someone was lured (not abducted forcibly) into a van, and the story failed to include any description of the perpetrators. Not their estimated ages, race, height, or even accents. And while the report was early morning (2 AM) no indication of the time of the abduction makes things even more “sketch” as the youth today say.
I am like the rest of the more rational commenters on this story in that I believe we wait for all the facts before reaching any judgement. But this story doesn’t help in any way. As far as news goes, it creates more questions than it answers. Is this something we should all be worrying about? Was this someone that she knew? What was the “technique” used to lure a young adult into a (purple-the only retail we get) van with three men? And what compelled these men to turn themselves in?
Make no mistake: I am not excusing bad/evil/illegal behavior. I am saying that this reporting does nothing but feed fear without providing any useful information.
Story 2: PSU Students cited for trespassing at pool. This story should be well below everyone’s radar, especially the CDT, but apparently it was made “newsworthy” by the lead sentence: “A Penn State student convicted of being involved in November’s downtown State College riot got a citation after police said they caught him and two others at the university’s outdoor pool this past weekend.” The story goes on to say the suspect and his friends were caught inside the fenceline “‘partially clothed’ but hadn’t gone into the pool yet.”
In what world is this a news story? I worked at several swimming pools and during the summer “fence hoppers” were a common occurrence. Generally speaking we not only didn’t notice, but we didn’t mind, except in those instances when they felt compelled to vandalize the pool. (And keep in mind, the vandalism usually consisted of simply tossing lounge chairs into the pool.)
No–what made this story “news” is that one of the three was convicted of “being involved” in the “riot” following the firing of Coach Joe Paterno. Really? What is the connection? Does being involved, and caught up in the moment last November make this action somehow more heinous?
What happened is, once again, there is “just enough” information to get the commenters on the CDT site all riled up and full of righteous indignation. They get to once again hate on the vicious criminals that burned their city down.
By the way, for those that missed it on Twitter, I have been quite incensed at the use of the term “riot” to describe much of what happens on college campuses and around the US lately. Read up on Riots. REAL Riots. Riots that, in fact, were occurring simultaneously with the events on US College campuses. In “real” Riots people die. Property is damaged in large swaths.
What happened in State College was not a riot. It was large gathering of students expressing their emotions, and a few, a very few, took an opportunity to commit vandalism.
But we can’t expect it to be reported that way either–since once again, it would involve too much work on the part of local media reporters.