Friday, December 12, 2014

Now that's what I call news

The other day the local television stations all reported news that we here at East Niagara Post chose to ignore. I stand by that decision and I'd like to tell you why.

The news event that we decided you didn't need to know about? A "winter weather advisory" was in effect for the northtowns and all of East Niagara. I considered writing something up about it and then changed my mind.

Weather stories, believe it or not, are some of our most viewed stories here at ENP and deciding against running the "winter weather advisory" story probably cost of several hundred page views for the day. But I felt it wasn't newsworthy. And I don't want to post flashy "Danger-Will-Robinson" headlines for non-news.

Basically, the National Weather Service was advising the greater-Buffalo area that there was likely to be winter weather, including snow. Not a lot of snow. Not heavy snow. Not blowing snow. Just, ya know, snow. In December. Not news. And we respect you too much to try to blow it out of proportion for the purpose of propping our statistics up.

Inversely, sometimes we are questioned about why we run certain items that others feel aren't newsworthy — specifically certain police items. The answer to that question is actually pretty simple: because a report was generated.

We decided at the very beginning to run every police item. Every one. If the Niagara County Sheriff's Office or Lockport Police Department makes available an incident or arrest report, we report it. Even the things that I personally think are trivial, like aggravated unlicensed operation and possession of marijuana.

So why do we report them if even I think they're trivial? Because we don't want to be accused of picking and choosing. Our credibility with our readers is of the utmost importance. And while a blanket policy of "publish everything" might not make the accused (or their friends and family) happy, it's considerably easier to adhere to than deciding on a case-by-case basis of what arrests are important and what aren't.

On a personal note, I might not have a fancy car or a mansion, but I have my reputation and our "publish it all" policy means I'll never have to worry about being accused of "playing favorites" with arrest reports. Because I assure you, I've known several people whose names we've published in the police reports — some who I consider to be friends.

To summarize: Snow in December is not news. Getting arrested is.

This column was originally published on East Niagara Post.