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Letter to the Editor: Evergreen DUI coverage shows inconsistency
Published 2/4/2013
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Editor:

As a former Evergreener and friend of current ASWSU Vice President Derrick Skaug, I am disappointed in the newspaper's coverage regarding DUIs last week. Greater consideration should have been taken with such sensitive stories.

Skaug's arrest was reported like breaking coverage, which influenced the student body's perception of the incident. Then, five days later, the court hearing of WSU running back Leon Brooks was reported with a far less convicting lead sentence and fewer examples of condemning language (‘arrested’ vs. ‘scheduled to appear in court,’ ‘wide turn’ vs. ‘failing to turn into the closest lane of traffic’). Both were pulled over on the same day, for the same reason, and arrested with the same charge (DUI) for similar blood alcohol levels between .08 and .09.

In between the publication of these two articles, the Evergreen justified their decision with an editorial establishing the public's right to know when their representatives commit a crime.

Brooks represents WSU, too. Both men receive substantial support from our institution to be leaders and to represent Washington State University to the public.

Personally I think there should be no tolerance for DUIs; following the tragic alcohol-related deaths this year of Kenny Hummel and Joseph Wiederrick, our reputation for alcohol abuse cannot afford any additional damage.

Inflammatory news coverage does not help the situation.

I urge you to please decide on a policy for reporting arrests. Establish criteria such as whether the incident involves a public figure, whether the crime involved victims, and if the perpetrator poses a continuing danger to the community. Use these criteria to give fair, responsible coverage.

Your arbitrary decision to cover one and not the other (when honestly they could have been covered together in one article on Monday) screams of reporter bias.

Allison Rowe

WSU Alumna, BA English

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