Monday, August 4, 2008

Readers criticize story on hiking

Q: Lance Leage was one of my cousins. Why would you include the information about his 20-year-old court history in the article on his death while hiking? The family couldn’t see how that would have had any bearing whatsoever on the reported circumstances of his death, which was a fall. Should it become relevant, then I can understand it. The family was very hurt by the inclusion of that information.
—Brodie Leage, Orland (near Chico)

Q: I was disappointed in your story about the missing hiker Lance Leage and how it brought up his criminal background. What happened 20 years ago is irrelevant to what happened on the trail. I am more interested in knowing what happened on the trail and why he slipped and fell. The story was in poor taste and hurtful to the family.
—Paula Martin, Paso Robles

Q: As a parent who lost a child 20 years ago, I am sympathetic to the family. I think the inclusion of the past criminal record would make the tragic situation that much more hurtful. As a reader, the story left me with several questions. Here’s a young man, 42 years old, running down a trail in flip flops. What was that about?Who is this mysterious friend from L. A. with no name? And how could a bloody shirt be found separated from the body? Why weren’t these questions pursued? I’m much more interested in this and not his past.
—Pandora Nash-Karner, Los Osos

A: Since we published the article about Lance Leage on Tuesday, we have received about 30 calls and e-mails from the family, their friends and some individuals who don’t know the Leages, all raising the concerns expressed above. It was not our intention to hurt the family. Clearly, however, our report did, and we are deeply sorry for that.
The journalists that day considered whether to include the information or not. In the end, we included it because there were so many unanswered questions surrounding his death and he had an extensive criminal record that spanned the latter half of his life.
We understand why some readers would be upset. Some journalists in our newsroom think we should have held the information for a later story that more fully reported on the police investigation.
Exactly what happened on that trail remains to be known. The results of a toxicology report, which won’t be completed for several weeks, may shed some light, and whatever it shows we will be sure to share.
As for the questions about how the tragic accident occurred, we have asked those questions and will continue to do so. At this point, law-enforcement authorities aren’t releasing any additional information, saying their investigation is ongoing. We will share information with you as we learn it.
-- Sandra Duerr


Remixed said...

I was extremely disappointed in hearing about a relative (whom I didn't know well, but have talked to) and how he was criticized for something that happened so long ago right after his death? What kind of person would write that about someone? My whole family has been outraged at this, as most of them knew him very well, and to say all this information with no relevance to his death?

What kind of newspaper are you running? The rest of the journalists who felt to wait for a later story with a full report should have been listened to.

Anonymous said...

I cannot find any reason to list a criminal record along with an editorial of someone's death, other than if the person was in the midst of a court case that affected the general public (such as a rapist, murderer, so on). Maybe we should all beware of the Tribune. I hope that when I pass the TRIBUNE does not run MY rap sheet!

Maridee Bell-Leage said...

Sandy Duerr needs to be fired along with her editor, Tadd, who approved print of her article on Lance Leage. The family of Lance, tried to contact Ms. Duerr, after her article ran, but she was obviously too busy looking up other criminal and court records, to upset families further,than to return our phone calls. We wish to thank KSBY, for their positive story on Lance. May all who read never use the Tribune for advertising or anything, for that matter. Somethings are just unforgivable. ~ ~ Maridee Bell-Leage

Anonymous said...

The TT is deceptive even in the titles on it's Editors Blog!

Calling the Lance Leage article a "story on hiking" is no different than calling a report of a traffic accident fatality "a story on driving."


Anonymous said...

What happened to this blog? The entries have slowed to nothing.

zuke said...

I agree with the comment above that said the blog article title is misleading. What in the world?!?

Why not rename it to Hiker's death in State Park or something *slightly* more accurate?

Anonymous said...

Any death is sad and a key component of the grieving process is anger. It is unfortunate that the family and others have felt the need to lash out the Tribunein such a frivolous and purely emotional based manner.

The article was indeed accurate and factual because Lance did have a criminal record, even though the occurrence did happen 20 years prior.

Since the circumstances surrounding the fall were not immediately expanded upon by the investigators, the Tribune reported all the facts surrounding the case including relevant background on the victim.

Would the outcry and anger be so vile and emotionally charged if a state worked employed to maintain the trail had a criminal background for negligence? I think not. No one would come to the aid or complain about that type of background being reported. In fact, I would assume the public would call for the workers firing.

Backgrounding is an essential part of reporting. While death is an extremely emotional event for any family, Lance's history was indeed relevant to the story. As the story and investigation continues to develop, it may be found that Lance's background had no bearing on the fall at whatsoever. But, what that piece of information did provide is proof that the journalist covering the story did a thorough job.

As far as the unanswered questions like those about the "mystery friend from LA," how can that be reported right now? That is purely conjecture. I am sure if anything concrete, like a criminal record, is found about this mystery person or the other hypotheticals, they will be reported and the story complete.

I am glad that the Tribune has allowed comments on their stories. It would be nice, however, if the readers would read and think about the story before posting emotionally charged and non-factually based attacks on the editors and writers at the Tribune.

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Anonymous said...

Come on! why would everyone be so shocked? Lance had a serious drug problem. He was a nice guy but he had a problem and everyone knew it. That is why everyone wondered how did he end up on a hillside in his flip flops in shorts high on the side of a mountain "hiking" maybe if his friends and family hadn't been such enablers he would still be here.

Anonymous said...

Somebody fucking killed him and cops are trying to blame it on lance , the one who had drugs in his body.. That is so they don't have to investagate what really happen ... Cheap bastards ..., they would put somebody in jail , if it was one of them ..., I will get to the bottom of this matter,, and when I do , there will be jobs that will be lost over it ..,