It isn't always fun to report the news.
At times, it's downright painful.
Readers of any legitimate newspaper - especially a hometown community paper - should realize the reporters are people too. They have opinions about the stories they cover.
What makes a newspaper successful is when reporters and editors keep their opinions to themselves and report as fairly and down-the-middle as possible. The only exceptions would be columns or blogs, plainly labeled "opinion" and where others are welcome to express themselves openly.
With that said, please note this is an opinion column ... "Our View".
Wait for it...
Recently, readers have been calling into the Speak Out line, slamming the Press Gazette over coverage of an incident involving a dog, the president of a hunt club, a gun, and a pickup truck. The president of the hunt club in eastern Santa Rosa County was arrested last month for shooting a loose hunting dog he perceived to be trespassing and for running deer - a no-no for hunting dogs.
He is accused of shooting the dog in the "shoulder" and then tying the dog to a pickup truck and dragging it for over two miles. Officials say there was a blood trail to prove this accusation and law enforcement officials documented the case with photos.
He was originally charged with felony cruelty to an animal. But the State Attorney's Office (SAO) chose to drop that charge to a misdemeanor based on a state statute that says the felony charge includes suffering on the part of the animal. It is the contention of the SAO, after investigation, that the dog died when it was shot and did not suffer as a result of the dragging.
This is what the Press Gazette reported because it is what happened, according to officials involved in the case.
When a Speak Out user called to offer their opinion over of the reduction of the felony charge, it was with criticism and disdain. Our reporter responded with an explanation of the law. The same caller responded a few days later on Speak Out accusing the newspaper of taking the side of the State Attorney's Office.
This is not what was intended.
We share information to help educate the public - the same information that educates us.
We didn't say we agreed with the decision. In fact, we didn't offer an opinion at all. We stated what the facts, as given to us so you, the reader, could react and form your own decisions.
We questioned the Fish and Game officer about the blood loss and asked why did an animal that was allegedly dead bleed so much when it was dragged down the road?
We didn't mention that the reporter asked about intent and the viciousness of the action and inquired as to whether or not that would be a factor in determining the level of the charge?
We didn't point out that all of the people who work for this newspaper own pets.
We didn't point out that the writer of the story had to bury three of her own animals in the past few months.
We didn't talk about the photos we examined before writing the story. We didn't tell you how truly tragic they are.
We didn't mention any of that.
Not one word.
Because it's our job to report the news and not to comment on it.
That's your job.
And with that, send in those cards and letters. Let us have it!