Editor’s Note: Talking About Crime
We recieved a lot of responses to our Publisher’s Note last week announcing a change to how we report on crime. As always, we appreciate the feedback from our readers. However, I’d like to clear up a few misconceptions.
Our crime reports were always curated. They were a sampling from the write-ups selected for us by the Gulfport Police Department, and occasionally taken from the Pinellas County Crime Viewer, an incomplete resource. In other words, the Gabber has never printed a full accounting of crime in our distribution area.
The Gabber publisher and editorial staff met with members of the Gulfport Police Department before announcing our decision. We feel confident we’ll be able to work with the police as partners in offering our community more in-depth (and less sensational) crime coverage.
In no way is the Gabber’s decision a comment on or “bashing” of the police. They have done their jobs. What they provide to us on a weekly basis should be a stepping-off point for our crime coverage, not the whole story. It’s our responsibility as journalists to tell the complete story.
The Gabber will continue to cover crime, but with more depth. As a weekly newspaper, we also feel that a crime index is fairly outdated by the time you read it. “Be on the lookout” orders are less relevant in next week’s newspaper.
We will no longer print a sampled crime index or police blotter. You are welcome to sign up for that from the Gulfport Police Department directly by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 727-582-6177. You can find the Pinellas County Crime Viewer at egis.pinellascounty.org/apps/CrimeViewer. You can also view current, active police calls at pcsoweb.com/activecallsdetails.
– Shelly Wilson, email@example.com
Dear Publisher: Firstly, thank you so much for getting the Gabber back in circulation. I look forward to the real local news each week and in that same vein, look at the crime report to see what is going on and if there is a “pattern” that I might need to be aware of. That happened recently in my neighborhood (PYCC) where a group of young men were breaking into homes and thus, I was more prudent in keeping things secure at our home. I think The Gabber has been providing a great service to its readers with the crime report and hate to see that you are discontinuing this important part of your news. I also liked the old format better. Just tell us what happened, don’t need the side comments. When crimes are happening in an area and the suspect(s) remain “at large,” the people in that area deserve to know what is happening so they can be better prepared. Please rethink your decision and reinstitute the crime report. I will be watching for it. – Regards, Robert (Bob) Angle
Dear Publisher: When I read the Gabber, I thought, that writer deserves a raise. Of course, all your readers judge what they read independently and have differing sensitivities. So, when today I read your Publisher’s Note, I found your thoughtful response to other views of the column’s treatment profound. I applaud you responded by carefully laying out the Gabber’s ethics, goals and commitment to the best of journalism practices. I value and appreciate the Gabber and its staff. Onward with the news you bring to our community. We would be lost without you. – M.L. Faunce
Dear Publisher: Thank you for taking a reasonable approach to reporting of crime in the paper. This exemplifies what I appreciate about Gulfport. The key is being willing to accept feedback — positive and negative — and sort through the rhetoric to find something you can use to tweak the reporting style and content. I trust that you and your staff will find the right balance over time. – Sincerely, Dayna Foster
Dear Publisher: It’s been a month or more since I last read the Gabber and quite honestly, I decided not to continue picking up a copy after having read that issue’s crime report. I’ve been a regular reader for 11 years. I thought that the snarky tone of the crime report was cruel and that maybe the Gabber was attempting to enter the News of The Weird, at the expense of Gulfport’s citizens and the dignity of the town. I probably don’t need to mention, but will, that Gulfport’s neighboring communities are lower income. That’s not an excuse for shoplifting or committing crimes of any sort, but your example of the mother shoplifting so she will have money for her children’s medicine breaks my heart. Maybe it was a pitiful excuse for stealing something non-vital, but the only person to judge is a judge and jury, not a newspaper. If the woman’s excuse was true, I can’t imagine the added humiliation of being mocked by the local newspaper for her neighbors and family to read.
As a journalist, you would know first-hand that the truth is stranger than fiction. Including the police blotter in the Gabber is an important public service that does need to be shared with the citizens of Gulfport, but should be reported as news.
Thank you for returning the crime report to the original format. I’ve otherwise enjoyed your past writing in other local publications. – Sincerely, Jacquie Padgett
Dear Publisher: I think you are making a mistake in becoming another political activist. And without spine. Gabber was successful by being neutral in political issues and you are trying to become another left-leaning media. Bashing the police without any proof of any wrong-doing , imposing your personal biases on the community and deciding what is right or wrong. As far as I am concerned, I am done with the Gabber and I will make sure the advertisers know about it. – Alma
Dear Publisher: I just moved here a few months ago and love the Gabber. We rescued our dog because of an ad in the Gabber. I was also in the Gabber when my mail was stolen (under the crime section of course) and as much as I love your paper, I did wonder about the humor sometimes displayed in the crime section. I am glad you are changing your philosophy. Good call. – Nancy Earley
Dear Publisher: I read the Gabber from front to back every time I get my hands on it because it has opened the door to several experiences that have made me feel like part of the community. I often read the crime accounts and wondered why the comic twist was added, maybe had a chuckle, but always thought about whether some of these people could have been those I hurried by coming and going in my daily tasks. I absolutely love what you said in your publisher’s note this week! We need more humanizing of the issues and this seems like another good place to start! (I already love the series on Lincoln Cemetery!)
When I walk and ride my bike through the streets I want to be able to wave and offer a greeting to everyone I pass by, whether it is our policemen and women or other locals, and hopefully have it returned! Just maybe, with a little more time and effort we can grow even more empathy and compassion in our community and continue to strengthen our human connection with each other. Thanks for reading this and keep on doing a great job with the Gabber! I’ll be reading! – Lisa Hodge
Comments via Facebook:
Yeah, I wasn’t amused by the new format. That said – frankly, I appreciated the way the Gabber used to report area crime: presenting the raw facts without sensationalizing them. Frankly, what I dislike is when a newspaper editorial board decides which crimes – and which crime victims – are deemed “newsworthy” and ignore the rest. In other words, it sounds as though you have deemed Gabber readers to have inadequate critical reading skills, and as a result, an objective list of crime data “does more harm than good” without a helpful Gabber writer to put those facts into a particular context for the, well, stupider readers. – Hank Wellman
Well, I personally have been obsessed with criminal justice. Since the new format came out, I’ve wanted to write to the Gabber and tell them, whoever is the author of the new format is doing an excellent job! It’s the first page I turn to! With all the crap, division in this country, it made me laugh! Not at the person being written about, but how someone had taken a different approach in reporting it! I loved it! Great job! – Karon Devoid
Congratulations to the Gabber Newspaper for raising the journalistic bar. I commend you on elevating the conversation and being part of the solution. As a former journalist, I understand it is the harder path to rethink how things are “always done.” You continue to impress! I am proud to call the Gabber my hometown paper. You and your staff deserve a round of applause… and a thank you! – Brenda McMahon
Enough Events Already
Dear Editor: I first moved to Gulfport in the early 70s. I liked what Gulfport was, a quiet neighborhood close to a beach. Yes, it floods every 10 years or so but we put up with it. What I don’t like is the modern assumption that “progress” means we have to become “The Little Key West” I recently read about in a local Zillow feed. I quote ”The Little Key West as it’s known, boasts weekly markets, Friday art walks, 160 festivals a year, your family and friends will never have a dull moment”
I believe our current and past city councils have over-done it. Over a hundred festivals a year? I understand that’s including regulars like our Tuesday market but there’s got to be a limit! The Motor Boat Festival is one of the worst of the Over the Top Festivals the city has come up with. The Gabber told us that only O’Maddy’s made any extra money from three days devoted, two years in a row, to the noisy and disruptive speed motor boats. I don’t think the people who live in Gulfport want that.
We don’t need helicopters overhead and loud boats roaring along our shore. We came here to cool out. We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for homes in quiet Gulfport. Our city councilors should remember that.
– Steve Smith