St. Francisville Democrat Editor Criticized, Fights Back

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“Time flies like an arrow...”

Since: Mar 07

"fruit flies like a banana"

#1 Jun 24, 2010
Excerpted from The St. Francisville Democrat, June 23, 2010 edition…

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Dear Editor:

As a matter of principle I feel obligated to inform you that your reporting of the news of crimes against children, specifically the incident on the front page released on June 10, 2010, is by far the most irresponsible type of news reporting in a small town like St. Francisville. This is the second such report within the last 12 months.

Apparently you do not realize the damage your type of reporting does to the innocent victims. This unfortunate woman and her children, while unnamed, are known within their community. These children, although unnamed, have to face their peers at school, their teachers and administrators, not to mention those with whom they go to church. How humiliating for these children and their mother to have YOU splash across the small town newspaper such repulsive and hideous news! That’s not reporting… it is pure massacre of the souls of these innocent victims. You do more service to the criminals, who are sick and demented, with this type of reporting. Leave their victims out of YOUR NEWS, because YOUR SUBSCRIBERS DON’T WANT TO KNOW IT!

In case you don’t realize it, most of your subscribers are parents and grandparents who search the weekly DEMOCRAT looking for photos of their children and grandchildren or to read news of their academic and athletic accomplishments in the school news sections. Our children enjoy seeing their peers and look forward to reading about their achievements. Try explaining your cover article to an 8 year old!

Report the bad if you must, but leave the details of the innocent out of it.

Sincerely,
Lauren Field
St. Francisville, LA

“Time flies like an arrow...”

Since: Mar 07

"fruit flies like a banana"

#2 Jun 24, 2010
Excerpted from The St. Francisville Democrat, June 23, 2010 edition…

MY VIEW
By Becky Hilliard, Editor

As regular readers of the St. Francisville Democrat and of my editorial column, My View, you probably noticed the “letter to the editor” at the top of the page. I have a reason. I want no one to form the opinion that I “Squelch” public comment.

But I do feel the need to respond so buckle your seatbelts folks.

I have never been, nor will I ever be irresponsible in my reporting of the news for this, MY, parish. I take every story that I write very seriously. Some know for a fact that I pray about the horrific events that happen here before I sit down at the computer to put them into words.

While I understand where your concern comes from, I can assure you that my reporting is fair, consistent and, although some will disagree, done with a true heart.

To address the letter specifically, I reported the FACTS of the case. What was hideous were the actions of the suspect in the case. What was repulsive was the fact that the victims trusted the suspect not to harm them.

You see, there is a difference between other newspaper reporters and myself. I live and work here in OUR parish. I have children in OUR parish schools. I go to church in OUR parish. I have close friends in OUR parish. I have a vested interest in OUR parish.

I am a reporter of the NEWS in OUR parish…good, bad or ugly. I report it all. I will continue to do so for I feel it is my duty.

I cannot pick and choose which events to cover. The St. Francisville Democrat provides good news like that mentioned in the letter but the world, indeed our parish, is not always a happy place. Bad things happen to good people. Make no mistake, I am not sensationalizing someone’s misfortune, I am merely reporting the facts.

Are some of the details in tragic events disturbing in nature? Yes, indeed, they are very disturbing. Perpetrators should not receive a “pass” because the facts make you uncomfortable.

The only way to write the article the letter refers to would be to NOT write it. And I cannot do that in good conscience.

There is a saying,“The good thing about living in a small town is everyone knows everyone. The bad thing is everyone knows everyone.” That could not be more true.

I realize that “you can’t please everyone” and can accept that.

What I cannot and will not tolerate is someone accusing me of irresponsible journalism without voicing a response.

You see, all I have in this entire world that is truly and completely mine is my integrity. Anything else in this world can be taken away from me at any moment. One must “give away” one’s integrity, and I refuse to do that for anyone or anything. That is a choice, MY choice.

As far as my subscribers go, I appreciate every one of you. I respect your opinions, and even when we don’t agree, I respectfully agree to disagree. I ask that you continue to read the St. Francisville Democrat and sometimes suffer through my ranting in My View.

If you have an opinion you want to share, please write Letter to the Editor, P.O. Box 1876, St. Francisville, LA 70775

“Time flies like an arrow...”

Since: Mar 07

"fruit flies like a banana"

#3 Jun 24, 2010
[
pragmatist wrote:
Excerpted from The St. Francisville Democrat, June 23, 2010 edition…
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Dear Editor:
As a matter of principle I feel obligated to inform you that your reporting of the news of crimes against children, specifically the incident on the front page released on June 10, 2010, is by far the most irresponsible type of news reporting in a small town like St. Francisville. This is the second such report within the last 12 months.
Apparently you do not realize the damage your type of reporting does to the innocent victims. This unfortunate woman and her children, while unnamed, are known within their community. These children, although unnamed, have to face their peers at school, their teachers and administrators, not to mention those with whom they go to church. How humiliating for these children and their mother to have YOU splash across the small town newspaper such repulsive and hideous news! That’s not reporting… it is pure massacre of the souls of these innocent victims. You do more service to the criminals, who are sick and demented, with this type of reporting. Leave their victims out of YOUR NEWS, because YOUR SUBSCRIBERS DON’T WANT TO KNOW IT!
In case you don’t realize it, most of your subscribers are parents and grandparents who search the weekly DEMOCRAT looking for photos of their children and grandchildren or to read news of their academic and athletic accomplishments in the school news sections. Our children enjoy seeing their peers and look forward to reading about their achievements. Try explaining your cover article to an 8 year old!
Report the bad if you must, but leave the details of the innocent out of it.
Sincerely,
Lauren Field
St. Francisville, LA
Dear Lauren,

You couldn’t be more wrong. You have taken the same, long-suffering position that many women in our society have taken throughout history – that sexual assault is somehow the fault of the victim and that the victim bears guilt and shame.

Sexual assault has no more to do with sex than being hit over the head with an iron skillet has to do with cooking.

It’s assault. The weapon chosen by the assailant just happens to be sexual. The woman you mention and her children bear no fault, no guilt and no shame. And for us to treat them as if they do, only strengthens the power of the assailant.

I agree that we shouldn’t publish their names; however, the local newspaper is NOT a society column. It is the only local newspaper we have. If you’re looking for society news, perhaps you should publish one either in print or online.

Shouldn’t we censor what our young children read in the paper, the internet and books as well as what they see on television, the theater and at the movies? Shouldn’t we be mindful and protective of their use of cell phones and social networking? And what about their fashion, the people they socialize with and the places they go? YES! But the local newspaper is not a children’s weekly. That’s the job of the primary caregivers to ensure that what goes into our children’s minds is age-appropriate and aligns with our theological beliefs.

Censorship of the news for the sake of decorum is not the right answer.

“Time flies like an arrow...”

Since: Mar 07

"fruit flies like a banana"

#4 Jun 24, 2010
pragmatist wrote:
Excerpted from The St. Francisville Democrat, June 23, 2010 edition…
MY VIEW
By Becky Hilliard, Editor
…I have never been, nor will I ever be irresponsible in my reporting of the news for this, MY, parish. I take every story that I write very seriously…
…While I understand where your concern comes from, I can assure you that my reporting is fair, consistent and, although some will disagree, done with a true heart.
To address the letter specifically, I reported the FACTS of the case. What was hideous were the actions of the suspect in the case. What was repulsive was the fact that the victims trusted the suspect not to harm them.
You see, there is a difference between other newspaper reporters and myself. I live and work here in OUR parish. I have children in OUR parish schools. I go to church in OUR parish. I have close friends in OUR parish. I have a vested interest in OUR parish.
I am a reporter of the NEWS in OUR parish…good, bad or ugly. I report it all. I will continue to do so for I feel it is my duty.
I cannot pick and choose which events to cover. The St. Francisville Democrat provides good news like that mentioned in the letter but the world, indeed our parish, is not always a happy place. Bad things happen to good people. Make no mistake, I am not sensationalizing someone’s misfortune, I am merely reporting the facts.
Are some of the details in tragic events disturbing in nature? Yes, indeed, they are very disturbing. Perpetrators should not receive a “pass” because the facts make you uncomfortable.
The only way to write the article the letter refers to would be to NOT write it. And I cannot do that in good conscience…
…What I cannot and will not tolerate is someone accusing me of irresponsible journalism without voicing a response.
You see, all I have in this entire world that is truly and completely mine is my integrity. Anything else in this world can be taken away from me at any moment. One must “give away” one’s integrity, and I refuse to do that for anyone or anything. That is a choice, MY choice…
Dear Becky,

Your assertion that you do not pick and choose which events to cover is troubling, to say the least.

As a business person, I understand the risk of biting the hand that feeds you; however, your reluctance to print the facts about our Police Jury meetings and the Jurors themselves is noteworthy.

For instance, in yesterday’s edition of the St. Francisville Democrat, you chose to headline with the ATM robbery when the other news of the day got a much smaller headline and the reader had to read all the way to page 8 to learn that one of our elected officials has had even more charges brought against him than were previously known.

Did you really think it was more important for the people of the parish to understand the revised statutes on first degree murder than to know that John Cobb, a Police Juror, had been indicted?

You routinely gloss over Police Jury meetings and Committee meetings when anything negative (which is almost always) occurs. The week that the Parish Manager, Ambrose Sims, erupted and screamed at a Juror and members of the public in attendance that he was tired of being questioned and that they should fire him, where was the coverage? You were in attendance at that meeting. Where was the lead article that we have a credit card fiasco perpetrated on the Parish taxpayers by Sims or that Sims spent so much of that meeting defending his lack of oversight and his excuses which contradicted previous excuses?

The Democrat should be leading the call for a complete investigation of the surreptitious dealings of the Jurors and the Parish Manager. Why aren’t you doing that? I submit to you that an editor with true integrity would be asking more questions and reporting when answers don’t pass the sniff-test rather than not reporting or glossing over the politically-charged topics.
anon

Saint Francisville, LA

#5 Jun 24, 2010
I agree with Ms. Fields. It is quite acceptable to report sexual assault in the newspaper but those particular articles in the Democrat verged on pornographic. The Advocate reports on sexual assault and abuse all the time but never have I read discriptions of the acts performed until these two articles that Ms. Fields mentions.
Who owns Democrat

Zachary, LA

#6 Jun 24, 2010
Pragmatist,
In a previous thread someone posted the name of the company in Lafayette that owns the Democrat along with their contact info. I cannot locate this thread, has it been deleted? I think it is important for local readers to have this info in order to voice concerns regarding the Democrat to the owners.

“FIRE SIMS!”

Since: May 10

Saint Francisville, LA

#7 Jun 24, 2010
Who owns Democrat wrote:
Pragmatist,
In a previous thread someone posted the name of the company in Lafayette that owns the Democrat along with their contact info. I cannot locate this thread, has it been deleted? I think it is important for local readers to have this info in order to voice concerns regarding the Democrat to the owners.
LOUISIANA SUBURBAN PRESS, INC.
600 JEFFERSON ST., STE. 1500
LAFAYETTE, LA 70501
Mailing Address
P. O. BOX 4033-C
LAFAYETTE, LA 70502

Officers:
RICHARD E. D'AQUIN
President
620 CAMBRIDGE DR.
LAFAYETTE, LA 70503

KEVIN MOODY
Secretary/Treasurer
600 JEFFERSON ST., STE. 1500
LAFAYETTE, LA 70501
Local

AOL

#8 Jun 24, 2010
The Democrat is not a society or social magazine. It's a newspaper.
To report the news.
If something is offensive, don't read it. And certainly don't let your children read it if you feel it's not appropriate.
Newspapers, as with all media, should be properly monitored when children are around.
Reporting in a small town would be difficult, to say the least.

“Time flies like an arrow...”

Since: Mar 07

"fruit flies like a banana"

#9 Jun 24, 2010
Ozwald wrote:
<quoted text>
LOUISIANA SUBURBAN PRESS, INC.
600 JEFFERSON ST., STE. 1500
LAFAYETTE, LA 70501
Mailing Address
P. O. BOX 4033-C
LAFAYETTE, LA 70502
Officers:
RICHARD E. D'AQUIN
President
620 CAMBRIDGE DR.
LAFAYETTE, LA 70503
KEVIN MOODY
Secretary/Treasurer
600 JEFFERSON ST., STE. 1500
LAFAYETTE, LA 70501
Thanks!
Lois

United States

#10 Jun 24, 2010
Now we know why it is sometimes called "The Democrap" or as some have described it...The Weekly Wiper. It is no more a "news" paper than pulp fiction is a literary masterpiece.
Forrest

United States

#11 Jun 24, 2010
Becky may be the editor but she is no more a professional reporter than she is a half-way fair reporter. She'd not last a day at a real newspaper. But then, The Democrat is most certainly not a real newspaper.
Frannyville

Baton Rouge, LA

#12 Jun 24, 2010
I know Becky personally. If you really knew her you people would see she is a great person. She is doing her job and doing it well. Shame on ya'll for judging her like you do.
InTheKnow

Baton Rouge, LA

#13 Jun 24, 2010
Frankly, I thought the editor exercised a great deal of restraint in not succumbing to the temptation to sensationalize the recent horrific crimes in our area. Obviously she was privy to many more shocking details than she printed. The Field diatribe is overkill. As stated by previous posters, an adult newspaper is not a child's weekly, parents should supervise what their children read, and the local newspaper has many subscribers who want the news, not simply fluff about themselves or their grandchildren's athletic skills or school programs, though there is certainly a place for school reporting and local social events. The editor must strike a balance, and sometimes there's a fine line to walk.
Resident

Baton Rouge, LA

#14 Jun 24, 2010
InTheKnow wrote:
Frankly, I thought the editor exercised a great deal of restraint in not succumbing to the temptation to sensationalize the recent horrific crimes in our area. Obviously she was privy to many more shocking details than she printed. The Field diatribe is overkill. As stated by previous posters, an adult newspaper is not a child's weekly, parents should supervise what their children read, and the local newspaper has many subscribers who want the news, not simply fluff about themselves or their grandchildren's athletic skills or school programs, though there is certainly a place for school reporting and local social events. The editor must strike a balance, and sometimes there's a fine line to walk.
Agree with all of the above stated comment,,,although I have some reservations with the paper as a whole namely spelling, grammer and structure I find nothing but good reporting in this article.
Subscriber

United States

#15 Jun 25, 2010
InTheKnow wrote:
Frankly, I thought the editor exercised a great deal of restraint in not succumbing to the temptation to sensationalize the recent horrific crimes in our area. Obviously she was privy to many more shocking details than she printed. The Field diatribe is overkill. As stated by previous posters, an adult newspaper is not a child's weekly, parents should supervise what their children read, and the local newspaper has many subscribers who want the news, not simply fluff about themselves or their grandchildren's athletic skills or school programs, though there is certainly a place for school reporting and local social events. The editor must strike a balance, and sometimes there's a fine line to walk.
A reporter's job is to report. An editor's job is to edit. East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet. She's not worth a damn as a reporter, or maybe I should say a "good and straightforward" reporter. I'm sure Becky is a good person, etc., etc. But that makes the job considerably easier for The Editor. "The editor must strike a balance, and sometimes there's a fine line to walk." Of course there is, but she has consistently been on the wrong side of the line so as to justify her position (I need a job and will not step on anyone's feet in this parish by trying to report the news in a professional manner). As a previous poster wrote, its called the Democrap. Its not Becky's fault. Were she to professionally report our skaggy happenings in St. Francisville, she'd be run out of town. So she walks the walk and talks the talk. What the hell else should she do?
No longer a subscriber

Zachary, LA

#16 Jun 25, 2010
Lauren was not in anyway saying these girls have anything to be ashamed of, she was simply pointing out that by running this story on the front page of the local paper the anonymity of the victims is lost. There are laws in place to protect the privacy of victims of sexual abuse (adults and children). Of course no laws were broken because Becky stopped just short of printing the girls names. This news should have been printed under the “Sheriffs Report” section with the accused name/age/ and offence...
I would also like to point out that the Democrat is available in the school libraries for children to read; I hope the librarians are reading cover to cover before they put out for the kids.
Thank you Lauren for speaking out on behalf of these girls!!!!
Local

AOL

#17 Jun 25, 2010
I would think The Advocate is available in school libraries, as well.
InTheKnow

Baton Rouge, LA

#18 Jun 25, 2010
I would think, also, that the news reached everyone interested well before the newspaper hit the streets. With many more details included in the word-of-mouth versions.
Hills

Saint Francisville, LA

#19 Jun 26, 2010
You dog Becky for reporting the news in our local paper about the recent events but what about the news channels or The Advocate... Did they not report the same? Are you going to bash them as well. Becky is merely doing "Her Job" as like every other editor, they report the news... Isn't that what all newspapers do?
And many of the kids here in town get the horrific details from such crimes whether it be the recent events that have taken place of any other are usually from their parents mouth because they over hear them talking about what they have heard or they are talking about it in front of them...
Becky is very passionate about her job and takes it very seriously... And if you think you can do a better job then you get your ass out there and report the news... Everyone wants to pretend that this town is all rosy and perfect and it's far from it and people need to know what actually takes place here and stop putting a blind side to everything that goes wrong here. Rosy shit doesn't sell newspapers, "News" sells newspapers whether its the good, bad or the ugly.
face the facts

Baton Rouge, LA

#20 Jun 27, 2010
Every single one of you on here complaing about Becky's column are quite comical. Truth be known you are probably the main ones ringing your friends and neighbors phones off the hook trying to find out the "sccop" when something happens. There are family members of mine that do not even live in this parish that know about certain news happenings here in Saint Fransicville and the names of the individuals involved before I EVEN DO...and I live here! You all sit here and nit and pick at what she's is doing but if you don't like it....dont buy the paper BUT MAKE SURE THAT YOU DON'T BUY THE MORNING ADVOACTE OR WATCH THE LOCAL NEWS AND AT TIMES NATIONAL NEWS EITHER. If it werent for her reporting of the news, the good AND the bad...alot of people wouldn't know the HALF of what goes on around here. ALOT of crimes are hid from the public and if you all think that what you have read and have watched on the news about Saint Francisvlle's crmes in the past couple of weeks is bad, WAKE UP! Saint Francisville is not the quiet SAFE little town it used to be...and you people need to wake up to the facts. I'm GLAD that BEcky reports THE FACTS AND THE NEWS in our little paper. For some of us, its the only way that we know that a crime has happened. As far as certain stories have a bigger page than others...what a shame huh! What ashame that you all are going to be that ridiculous.

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