Brace yourselves, Ashland, the media circus is about to roll into town. You’ll soon be up to your armpits in impeccably primped talking heads from out-of-town TV media. With another spectacular case coming before the court, they’ll bull their way in here, shove the small-town reporters aside and show them how to cover the news big-city style.
In a courthouse where those of us from the local media conduct ourselves with decorum and respect for people’s feelings, the out-of-town news anchors will shove microphones in victim’s faces, ask stupid questions and cobble their video and audio footage into highly sensationalized “news.”
Of course I’m talking about the Elliot Gornall case. Gornall, a Loudonville kindergarten teacher, is accused of using a pinhole video camera to record his students going to the bathroom. I assume the allegations are that he wasn’t doing it to see if he could catch them smoking in there.
In my 16 years with the Ashland Times-Gazette — most of it covering the cops and courts beat — I witnessed my share of sensational crimes. However, most the crimes I covered didn’t attract outside media attention. But they all had one thing in common — victims. Not just victims of the initial crime, but people close to those victims and the perpetrators. Friends. Family. Clergy.
When we cover crime in a small town, we have to be sensitive to that. It affects the way we conduct ourselves in court and how we write our stories. I guess that’s because these are people we see day in and day out — on the street, in a restaurant, in church, at the county fair.
That’s the real story. But there’s nothing sensational about that.