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The Northerner

Media coverage influenced by law

Sean Dressman

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Corruption.

It’s a dirty word, to be sure.

Yet in this day and age, almost everywhere we look, corruption exists in some form or fashion. It’s in politics, with how independent outside influences decide elections. It’s in law enforcement with corrupt police and city officials. It’s also in our media, and I know all about these last two personally.

Three years ago, I began my academic career here at NKU. By the end of the first week, I was awakened very quickly to the harsh realities of life. On Aug. 31, 2001, my sister was assaulted at her apartment complex and left for dead in the alley behind her building. What followed was six months of the worst time in my, and my family’s, life. My sister was put into a hospital for 5 weeks in a severe coma. She almost died three times. She contracted both a staph infection and meningitis. But at the end of it all, the story was never told, and the perpetrator still walks free to this day.

Now, automatically you would assume that there is something seriously wrong with this picture. So let me educate you on what happened after the assault. Post-assault, my family began to pursue actions against the people that we believed executed this. Very quickly, I learned how corrupt and controlled not only the local police department was, but also our local media.

When we began to pursue action, the police were the first to block us. Everywhere we turned, it appeared that the police had been there before us and, through whatever methods, had managed to effectively block anyone that could help us. Eventually, the department ruled my sister’s assault an attempted suicide. With that, they shut us down cold. Now, she had a past dealing with this department, which out of respect for her privacy, I will not go into. But, it appeared very quickly to me that someone, somewhere inside the police department, didn’t care about what happened to my sister. Every person who came forward to offer evidence or another viewpoint was turned away for various reasons.

If this wasn’t bad enough, I quickly saw how corrupt and manipulated our media was. After the department’s ruling, my dad and I went on a letter-writing campaign, attempting to get anyone to carry or examine the story. Every newspaper or media outlet we talked to agreed, provided the police would agree. Obviously they didn’t, hence stopping the story from being carried to the public. That is, until now.

This is just my opinion on the matter, but here’s the way I see it: The department messed up. They knew that the investigation was compromised and that if they came to any other conclusion than my sister trying to kill herself, they’d be burned for it. So what they did was shut us down – they buried us. Every news writer would be intrigued by the story, and then, after calling the department, would invariably come back and say that there was nothing there.

It became obvious quickly that the police were leaning on the newspapers. My question is this: Aren’t the newspapers supposed to report the news as it occurred, not as they are told to report it? What these actions showed me was that the papers were completely unwilling to stand up and do the right thing. Instead, they chose to remain behind the scenes and be told that they could not run the story for lack of future cooperation from the department. Now, is that really what happened? Who knows, I’m merely projecting on that belief, but it makes much more sense than being gung-ho about writing a story and then backing off after talking to the department in question.

The sad part is, no one cared. No one ever tried to make up for it. Is this the kind of world we live in, where people who shouldn’t even have control of the news can dictate what is or isn’t written? Where the law can decide what is important enough to be in the news, and be permitted to cover their mistakes at the expense of my sister’s life? The point is this: It exists; its there, and it will probably never change. It’s the law that protects us, and the media who informs us. Wow, and people think pro wrestling is fake.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Media coverage influenced by law