Handling complaints

By David Stevens

I received a complaint on Sunday from a Clovis High School band parent. She wanted to see a news report about the band’s recent success in a California competition.
We knew about the band’s success and a reporter was assigned to write a feature on that topic for last Thursday’s education page.
Unfortunately, the reporter became ill and missed four days of work.
We’ll try again this week.

Our ability to report information improved on Saturday when police reporter Darrell Todd Maurina reported for his first day on the job. His arrival gives us three reporters on staff, the most we’ve had since February.
Here are some of the stories he’ll be working on during his first full week:
– The CNJ received several reports last week about a Clovis school teacher supposedly arrested in class. A two-line report on a police “call log” suggests the information we’ve received from parents could be accurate, though no police incident report had been filed when we last checked.
– Officials still have not released terms of an out-of-court settlement involving the family of Joyce Acy and several local public entities. Acy died in the Curry County jail last summer. Family members filed a lawsuit alleging wrongdoing in connection with her death. Responsible entities keep taxpayers informed as to how they’ve spent tax dollars. When public entities act irresponsibly and in secret, the newspaper helps them remember where the tax money comes from.
– An airman from Cannon Air Force Base is being held in Wichita Falls, Texas, in connection with a homicide that occurred there in February. Maurina will try to update that story this week.

Yes, I know other newspapers have reported the name of the Cannon airman being held in Texas. The CNJ has not yet reported the man’s name because it is our policy not to report names of criminal suspects until they are charged with a crime.
We have made exceptions to policy many times, usually when public figures are involved. Legally, we could report this man’s name if we felt like it. But what if the man is being held as a witness rather than a suspected killer? We don’t know why he’s being held and he’s not well known to the average Clovis-area citizen, so I won’t make an exception to this policy right now.
Hopefully, Cannon officials will inform the public if this airman is being held because he’s suspected of murder. Then we will release his name.

A Clovis funeral home has asked the CNJ to begin publishing the funeral home’s Web site address at the end of obituary reports.
Does that sound like a service for the reader?
Or free advertising for the funeral home?
The editor and publisher will huddle up this week and make that call. In the meantime, I’m interested to know what you think.

From the Editor’s Desk is a weekly memo to CNJ readers. David Stevens can be reached at 763-6991, extension 310, or by e-mail: david_stevens@link.freedom.com