When Is There T.M.I. (Too Much Information) In Local Media?
By Victor Milani
The Milani name in the newspaper lineage of Nordonia Hills goes back decades. My late, great father Arch Milani, co- founded The Bulletin, consulted with me and my late sister Kim Milani Masseria on the formation of the News Leader, and went on to the Sun Newspaper chain. I personally have worked in the media industry since I graduated from Nordonia high school. There is always a fine line as to what to report, or not report. As the old Bob Segar song says: ”what to leave in, what to leave out.” That brings me to the crux of the story.
My NordoniaHills.News partner Julie D’Alosio and I have shrived to be informative, but sensitive when reporting unfortunate, or bad news. As a person whose family has been in the public eye in this area for decades, I know what it’s like to be deprived of privacy during troubled times. My father’s passing was handled as privately, and quickly as possible. That was my parent’s wishes. I wanted to disclose the news when my family was ready to announce it. Yet a local media outlet made calls trying to get information, or a scoop, on my father’s passing. The reporter never bothered to call the family for details or accuracy; they called Northfield Village Town Hall. You can imagine the hailstorm of rumors that reporter’s one call to Town Hall made. My phone rang for literally a day with people wanting details and comments. The well wishes and intentions of all the calls were genuine and good, but all I wanted was to have a few days in private to grieve with my family. So much for privacy!
Recently, NordoniaHills.News has been reporting on the heroin epidemic that has taken a grip nationwide, and the Nordonia Hill’s area. We have tried to do our part in informing the public of the trials and tribulations of what heroin does not only to the addicts, but their family as well. One brave Nordonia Hill’s resident chronicled her son’s battle with the demonic drug for NordoniaHills.News. We co- sponsored a heroin seminar at Nordonia High School, where people and law enforcement personnel provided testimony and information on the effects of this epidemic. NordoniaHills.News wasn’t trying to scoop, or call anybody out by name as far as the addicts, or their families. They wanted to share their story. There are not only HIPPA (privacy) laws to protect patient’s rights, but old fashioned common courtesy should be shown. There should also be common courtesy boundaries to protect the privacy of those who have died from this hideous disease. In this close knit community of Nordonia Hills, who dies should be chronicled in the obituary section, not part of a front page news story weeks after the death. Four people from the Nordonia Hills area recently passed away from heroin. Many addicts have been brought back to life by the Injection NarCan. Those four families and millions of others nationally, have been torn apart, and have buried their loved ones, trying to move on with their lives, but never forgetting their lost family members. Then one morning they wake up to find their deceased family member’s name, age, and having died of a heroin overdose, in the weekly paper. I can’t imagine the shock of having to relive the nightmare again. Couldn’t the story have had the same meaning without using the names of the deceased? Four local people died of heroin. Period. No names were necessary. Old, healing wounds have been opened again. Personally, I knew one of the people identified, Scott Barrett and his family. Scott was a fine radio dispatcher for Sagamore Hills Police Dept. His late father Richard Barrett was a Sagamore Hills Trustee for many years, and pillar of the community. When Scott passed away, NordoniaHills.News, out of respect to the family, only printed the official obituary from the funeral home for the public to have knowledge of the funeral arrangements. Put yourself in the position of the Barrett family, and all those who have locally passed away from this epidemic. It’s bad enough to have lost a family member. Is it necessary to have the cause of death publicized for the sake of a story? NordoniaHills.News won’t be a party to that form of journalism! NordoniaHills.News will always try to be as sensitive to the family, who has already suffered enough.
After I had finished this story, I received a call from an extremely upset Sagamore Hills resident Kim Griner, a local community activist. She has known the Barrett family for years, and was irate and in tears due to the inclusion of the Barrett name into the weekly paper’s article. She asked if she could respond.
These are Ms. Griner’s comments: “As a close Personal Family Friend of the Barrett Family I am appalled and sickened by the insensitive and unprofessional Story on the FRONT PAGE of the News Leader about the Death of our Beloved Scott Barrett. What possible motive did the News Leader have for tearing open such a deep painful wound and adding to the suffering of the Entire Barrett Family.”
Editor’s note: “We have the information from the police reports (names and all the details), but we choose to not publish this information. We instead post statistics on how many reports where drug related and more: (click here to see how we do it).
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”