Reporting Deaths and Tree Mayhem
MAN SHOOTS WIFE IN HEAD
Last week a Costa Mesa resident identified as Kenneth Joseph Leake, age 75, was arrested at his Eastside home for apparently attempting to kill his wife of 50 years, Doris. According to published reports Leake shot his wife in the head anywhere from one to five times, depending on which report you choose to believe. Leake is being held on $1 million bail and will be arraigned on October 16th in Harbor Justice Center.
This, of course, is a terrible tragedy. It's hard to imagine what prompts a man to attempt to murder his wife of a half century so violently. It's amazing that she has survived this attack.
Here's my problem with this story. It's the way it has been portrayed by various media outlets.
THREE VIEWS OF THE SAME STORY
The Daily Pilot was the first to break this story. You can read their updated story HERE. In the story they identify Mr. Leake and his wife, Doris and describe the shooting, indicating that she was shot in the head three times. The Orange County Register ran a close second, HERE, and said Mrs. Leake was shot once. Today the Newport-Mesa Daily Voice presented a more detailed account of this event, including the fact that Mr. Leake shot his victim not once, but five times - four to the head and one in the wrist. In that story, HERE, they identified the victim not as Mrs. Doris Leake, but as Jane Doe - after two other media outlets had already identified her by name.
I JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND
Now, I certainly don't pretend to be a newsman - not even close. I'm just a guy who writes whatever dribbles out of his head on a given day, but tries to be sure it's founded in facts. All of those outfits are staffed by very experienced reporters and editors and yet the stories told are very different. I mean, how many times was the victim shot? Where? Why? And why, for goodness sake, did the Daily Voice not identify the victim as the shooters wife by her name when their headline clearly states that he shot his wife of 50 years?
DAILY VOICE ANNOUNCES DEATH
We had another similar event last week, too, in which Newport Beach socialite Debbie Simon died in her Harbor Island mansion. In this case, the Daily Voice broke the story and did a nice job of explaining who she was, described the good works she had done since arriving from New Jersey a few years ago. But, they didn't mention that she took her own life.
DAILY PILOT ANNOUNCES HANGING AS CAUSE
Joe Serna wrote a good story on this event, too, in which he very discretely mentioned that Simon had taken her life. However, Editor Brady Rhoades subsequently blogged about this death and mentioned that Simon had hanged herself. Rhoades followed that up with a column last Friday's print edition in which he reaffirmed her death by hanging.
WHO DECIDES WHICH "FACTS" ARE TOLD?
The question on this one is, "What determines when the complete facts of a story are told?" Personally, I think the fact that Simon took her own life is relevant to the story - the Daily Voice apparently did not. Considering the fact that she was a highly visible socialite who, from all reports, spent her wealth freely on many good causes in the area and was still in the midst of a very sticky divorce after something like six or seven years makes the fact that she died by hanging an important element of the story.
TOO MUCH TV DRAMA?
I don't know - maybe I've watched a hundred too many episodes of the CSI series and The Sopranos, but this kind of curious reporting just bothers me. I do know that I don't trust any single source if information any more - on almost any subject - for the very reasons illustrated above.
And, to end this post on an even more sour note, how in the world do we explain the recent vandalism in Fairview and Canyon parks in which someone, or a group of someones, chopped a bunch of trees in half? You can read Candace Baker's story in the Daily Pilot HERE. Certainly, these crimes do not compare to the deaths mentioned above, but what kind of a strange, demented person attacks a specific species of tree in two different municipal parks for no apparent reason? We're living in strange times, my friends.
(All photos used in this entry courtesy of the Daily Pilot)