We hope that The Daily Astorian will reconsider its presentation of stories like that about Michel Thomas Mitchell (“Astorian charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse,” Sept. 26). The facts in that case, in so far as we are told them, suggest a tragedy:
The apparent victim has suffered, the accused may have blackened what appears to have been an otherwise commendable life, and the families of both are surely grieving. It does not, we think, serve justice at this point to treat the situation in the manner of a tabloid by running the story at the top of Page 1, accompanied by a police mug shot.
The duty of journalism is to tell the truth, in so far as it is known, without sensationalizing it and without prematurely becoming judge and punishment. The writer of the story about Mitchell made a generally laudable effort to meet that standard, but his story should, we believe, have been placed inside the paper, and the police photo and some of the detail from the charges omitted. Later, after the facts are established and weighed, there will be a time for judgment.
We very much want The Daily Astorian to sell papers and survive. It is a crucial civic asset, one that few small towns any longer have, and one that in our town’s case is of exceptional quality.
We urge the paper not to underestimate, because of economic pressure, the standards of most of its readers.
Robert and Kerstin Adams