Hank Sims / Friday, Feb. 21 @ 4:20 p.m. / Housekeeping
Do you hate your job? Do you hate that you don’t have a job?
The Outpost is here to help. Last week we quietly launched LoCO Jobs!
For you old-timers: LoCO Jobs is essentially like the only useful section of what you remember as the “classified section” of the “newspaper,” except smarter and less messy. It’s a rundown of local employers who are looking to give people just like you a lot of money (in exchange for your labor). You can enter your email address in the little doohickey on the top of the page. When new jobs are posted you get an email blast telling you about them.
LoCO Jobs is sponsored by Sequoia Personnel Services, a local employment agency, but any local employer can sign on. Want to advertise YOUR job on the Outpost? Shoot a message to our general manager, Tom Newhouse — email@example.com — or give us a ring during business hours: (707) 786-5104.
Humboldt County Superior Court Calendar: Today
Us101 N / Us101 N 12th St Ofr (Humboldt office): Traffic Hazard
Indianola Cutoff / Old Arcata Rd (Humboldt office): Animal Hazard
2830 - 2837 Myrtle Ave (Humboldt office): Trfc Collision-No Inj
KINS: PM News 031014
Hank Sims / Monday, Jan. 13 @ 2:03 p.m. / Housekeeping
Last week, several readers called upon us to remove photos we had taken at the site of a homicide in Trinidad. The photos showed the covered body of the victim, which was left outside in a trailer park, under police guard, for around eight hours after medical personnel arrived at the scene and pronounced the victim deceased.
We declined to remove the photos, because – as indicated by our publication of them in the first place – we judged that their importance as news outweighed the grief they might cause some people.
This isn’t to say that we were right to do so, and it is not to say that we were wrong to do so, or that there exists an objective way to judge between the two. There is no final authority – no codified set of rules – that you can check against any particular decision made in a newsroom. Ethical quandaries in media are no more simple or clearcut than ethical quandaries in life at large, and anyone who tells you otherwise is telling you a falsehood. We’re all swimming around in a big gray sea, and the best that honest people can do is to do the best that they can.
In that spirit, and now that things have cooled down a bit, we thought it might be important – or at least interesting – to analyze this particular case a little bit, to show you what went into our thinking by publishing this photo, and by declining to take it down when some people requested us to do so.
The first thing to note is that we do not take such requests or critiques lightly, and we do – often and regularly – withhold information because releasing it would do harm to particular people. For instance: In this case, we knew the victim’s name a few hours before it was released by the coroner, but we did not publish it. We respect the idea that no one wants to learn of a loved one’s death on the Internet, or from any media source, and so we always wait until law enforcement officially releases the name of the deceased, so that family members can be notified personally. The community at large can wait.
In this case, then, the balance, in our minds, tilts to privacy over reporting the news, despite the fact that “reporting the news” would be the first item in our (unwritten) mission statement. Not everything need be written up and published, and some things that should be written up and published don’t have to be written up and published right this minute.
But we believed and continue to believe that the pictures in question were important to the community – to its understanding of what happened that morning – and that their importance outweighed the desire of some people to have them scrubbed from the record.
The photos we took at the scene – in the presence of a family member who knows the reporter – are not graphic or detailed. By that I mean: The victim in the case cannot be identified in them. The identity of the victim could not even be guessed at. But the photos are startling. They depict the aftermath of a violent crime.
They were newsworthy not only in a general sense — not only because they show what happens in the aftermath of a violent crime, how our police agencies and emergency personnel respond to such an event — but because of the details of this particular incident and how it unfolded. In this case, the victim was left where he fell for eight solid hours. As we reported, residents of the park were upset by this fact. More than one child passed by it that morning, and were left to spend their day confronted with the results of violence just feet from their own homes.
To not report that would be to leave Humboldt County with an incomplete, sanitized version of a big part of what was happening — the scene that it caused among residents of the park and of the greater Trinidad community. This would not be as effectively told with words alone; in general, reporters strive to document their sources of information (as they should). Since the victim was covered up in the photos — only a shoe was visible — we did not believe that any potential trauma to loved ones outweighed the public’s right to know what was happening in Trinidad that morning.
(A side note: When forensic examiners did arrive later in the morning, there came a point when the body was uncovered. Police asked the media present to not take images during this, and of course the Outpost — along with the Times-Standard and News Channel 3 — complied with that request.)
Many, many news stories aggrieve particular people and their loved ones, and our regular, direct contact with our readership has given us an appreciation for the absolutely laudable desire of others to rally for the afflicted when disaster strikes. If one such person, motivated by noble aims, believes that they can help by attempting to shield the world from saddening images or stories, then we do not take issue with that, and they may speak their mind freely on our site. (Not under unrelated stories, please.)
To repeat, though: We believe that we were serving the community by publishing the pictures in question. But we also recognize that we are not infallible, and apart from some very specific matters of media law there is no ultimate authority to appeal to on the question of whether something should be published or whether it should not be. You can argue that we should not publish this item or that – or this picture or that – and we may think differently, but that does not make either of us right or wrong. There is a difference of opinion.
The Lost Coast Outpost works for its readers and our community, however, and we are always persuadable. You might not believe it if the freewheeling discourse of our comment section were the only thing to go by, but the best thing to do if you take issue with what we do here is to make your best case, and to ground it in principle. We strive to serve our community to the best of our abilities and to the limit of the resources we have at hand. If you have serious thoughts about how we might do that better, then we always – always – want to hear them.
Hank Sims / Friday, Jan. 10 @ 3:27 p.m. / Housekeeping
The Lost Coast Outpost is pleased to launch our newest data thingamajig — CAMMED!
CAMMED is your at-a-glance look at the county and region’s myriad live webcams, wherein you can visually take the pulse of daily life in Humboldt County and beyond as it happens — weather, traffic, people-gazing, all that. Most of the cameras, currently come from either Caltrans or Hans, the cam hero behind Sunny Fortuna.
Know of any other cams? Shoot us an email and we’ll probably slap that one on there too.
1). The EagleCam is not currently up there because this system, as it is, is built to handle your klassic webcam — the one-JPG-a-minute setup. We will retrofit it for actual streaming video soon.
2). Yes, I know there is no regular link to CAMMED on the Outpost home page. We will change that soon too.
To celebrate the launch of CAMMED, we thought it would be fun to monitor selected, particularly beautiful shots for a whole day — to cam the cams, as it were — and to make little stop-motion movies of a day in the life. Five such movies follow. They record all of yesterday at a 1:1200 ratio — one second in movie time equals 20 minutes.
Enjoy! Perhaps we’ll do this again someday, or perhaps on a regular basis. CAMMED, everyone!
The Shelter Cove Headlands (partial day):
… and the most beautiful of all, though (sadly) the least local: The Point Arena Lighthouse:
Big doin’s on the local media front!
First and by far most importantly: Remember a couple of weeks ago when we told you that we were hiring?
Well, we have hired. We are truly honored by the bazillion worthy applications we received, but in the end we had to go with the great Ryan Burns. Ryan Burns, ladies and gentlemen!
You know Burns as a fearsome scoop machine, a powerful elegiast, a master of the celebrity profile, a patient disentangler of political and governmental shenanigans. He habitually destroys all comers at the annual cagematch known as the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s “Better Newspapers Contest.” He is a graduate of McK High, College of the Redwoods and Humboldt State.
He joins your Lost Coast Outpost family on Jan. 6, and we could not be more thrilled. We have big things planned.
Now: Who will fill that Burns-sized hole at the North Coast Journal? None other than longtime Times-Standard star reporter Thad Greenson, who inherits the newly created position of NCJ News Editor from Burnsy. Reached by phone a few moments ago, Greenson sounded melancholy about leaving the T-S behind — he took the job there even before he graduated from HSU’s journalism program — but he said he was excited to get to work chez NCJ.
“I hope to further the good work the Journal has done, and make it the primary source for in-depth news coverage on the North Coast,” he said.
The Humboldt County media scene can be quite complex, so the Outpost has created the following infographic to make recent comings and goings crystal clear to an average observer:
Hank Sims / Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 @ 12:47 p.m. / Housekeeping
Friends: The Lost Coast Outpost is a morphous, ever-expanding beast of a website. Hulk-like in strength and also in color, it is forever bursting the seams that attempt to contain it.
And it is that time again! The Outpost is hiring!
We’re looking for an experienced hard news reporter to cover government, politics and miscellaneous other matters in Northern Humboldt. We want to find a self-starter with deep knowledge of Humboldt County society and a track record of bombshell scoops.
The successful applicant must write breezily and smooth, because the Web generation demands it. Radio experience a plus. We go on the radio sometimes.
Send your resume, clips, cover letters, etc. to Lost Coast Communications General Manager Tom Newhouse: firstname.lastname@example.org. No phone calls.