It’s been a tough week for the Ventura Police Department as it lost one its own last weekend. Officer Ricky Payne, 27, was found shot with a self inflicted wound to the chest in his father’s backyard–he was still on duty at the time. Payne was being investigated on a personel issue; the details of the investigation have not been released to the public.
As information about the event and the personel issue emerge, any solid human being, bound by ethical guidelines, would have to tread very carefully when it comes to spreading the word. Given the tremendous loss the family is experiencing, most people wouldn’t ask too many questions about Payne at this time, with the wound so very fresh. But when it comes to reporting the news, the fact that Payne was on duty at the time and that he was being investigated, what is our role in pursuing the story? It is in a newspaper’s best interest to report such a story with so many shocking details–with the theory, if it bleeds, it leads, in essence to sell papers–but is it in poor taste, disrespectful to intrude on a family’s life while they grieve? How is the family expected to respond to the press?
As a reader, how do you feel about the press’s investigation into such matters? When you read a story, do you think of the process, the press calling and tracking the family to get more infomation, that journalists go through to get a story? Let us know.