Some readers have recently questioned The Daily Evergreen coverage earlier this week about the arrest of ASWSU Vice President and City Councilman Derrick Skaug for driving under the influence.
Comments written on the Evergreen Facebook stated the story should not have printed because Skaug had yet to receive a hearing or trial — calling the reporting “eager” and “gossip.”
However, we, the editorial staff, stand by our decision.
It’s our obligation to bring this matter to the public’s attention. We support the First Amendment by reporting the truth and holding officials accountable for their actions.
Our duty as student journalists at WSU is to report the facts, especially those that affect students and citizens in the Pullman community. Our readers deserve to know the actions of their elected officials. Everyone is innocent until proven otherwise, and we by no means seek to condemn them or their character.
These intentions do not change the reality of an arrest.
If the Evergreen were to wait for a sentencing of a suspected criminal, our readership could remain uninformed about the arrest of a public figure for months.
Neglecting to inform the public of such arrests could break a trust with our readers. The Evergreen follows the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, which states reporters are required to “recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public's business is conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection.”
The Code of Ethics also establishes that journalists must "recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention." In some situations, ensuring the general well-being of the community involves imparting personal details about public officials.
The arrest and subsequent procedures involved with enforcing DUIs costs taxpayers money, and it is up to the citizens of Pullman to form their own views as to the seriousness of such situations.
Our goal as journalists is not to spark gossip in the community.
We appreciate the feedback we received from Pullman residents and WSU students about Sunday’s article. It does not bring The Daily Evergreen staff joy to report on the detrimental actions of public officials.
Our ethical purpose remains, as always, to keep the public informed.
Positions taken in staff editorials are usually determined by a majority vote of the Editorial Board. The Editorial Board consists of: Editor-in-chief Derek Harrison, Managing Editor Christine Rushton, News Editors Michelle Fredrickson and Leilani Leach and Opinion Editor Calley Hair. Contact editors at firstname.lastname@example.org to respond or suggest an editorial topic.