Trying To Turn The Tide

Safe Harbor wants to thank The Journal of Seneca, SC for highlighting the issue of domestic violence in the Upstate.  Below is an editorial written by Editor, Brett McLaughlin, on 12/17/2011.

Periodically, we receive letters and calls from readers who are offended by some of the front-page story choices we make. Generally, the number of “negative” news stories selected for that page puts them off.

We understand their concerns and we share them. We understand there is a lot of good news in our communities and, believe it or not, a good portion of every edition is devoted to highlighting that news. Sometimes, it’s even on the front page.

Every day, people gather to weigh what stories will be published and where they will be placed in the paper. Those are seldom easy decisions.

The difficulty of determining space and placement is complicated by a simple business reality. We remain a viable business by selling advertising. The people who advertise decide where to spend their money based, in part, on how many readers the paper has. On days when crime, personal tragedy and government controversy dominate our front page, we sell more papers.

We understand that part of our responsibility is to “raise the bar,” but would suggest that sometimes that can be done in less conventional ways.

For instance, the editorial staff of The Journal decided several years ago that criminal domestic violence is far too pervasive in our society, particularly in this area. As a result, every arrest for criminal domestic violence is reported. At the same time, we are continually focused on positive stories about efforts to stem this tide and to provide shelter for abused and battered women and children.

If there were ever any doubts that forcing our readers to engage the horrible details of domestic violence was a mistake, they should have been erased by the release, this week, of the first CDC national study of domestic violence. Among its findings were that 1 in 3 women in the U.S. has experienced rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner and that 1 in 4 women have experienced severe violence at the hands of a partner.

These disgusting statistics must be eliminated. If our focus on this problem, as negative as that may be, causes any of our readers discomfort, we are sorry, but we are even sorrier for the victims of these crimes, whose stories we will continue to tell.