Last week we had one of our newsroom conversations about journalism that feeds into the ethics debate. I would appreciate it if you could tell me your thoughts.
The story is about Pat O’Malley being charged with felony assault on a police officer, assaulting a police officer, obstructing official duty, and resisting arrest. O’Malley is a longtime celebrity in northeastern Ohio, elected to the Cleveland City Council and Cuyahoga County Registrar.
He also has a history of physical altercations and arrests and is familiar to our news platform. His career as a civil servant ended in 2008 when he pleaded guilty to obscenity charges and in federal prison he was sentenced to 15 months. Earlier that year, we described how he filled dozens of positions in the registrar’s office with his sponsorship.
He’s also the brother of current Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley, who rightfully withdrew from the latest case.
The problem is that this incident involves some sort of mental health issue. Therefore, the “mental health crisis case” that the police were called to the house. Unfortunately, many of the recent police calls have involved mental health breakdowns, so there’s been a lot of debate in recent years about the proper way to deal with it.
People dealing with emotional trauma often lash out in ways that can be defined as criminals, but as a society we work hard to fix underlying mental health issues rather than punish people. It’s one of the reasons why Cuyahoga County Chief Executive Almond Budish created a diversion center for arrested mentally ill and drug addicts. He would rather get the help they need than have them sit in jail.
From a newsroom perspective, we generally don’t report people with mental health issues unless they behave eccentric enough to warrant attention. If someone brings downtown Cleveland to a standstill for threatening behavior, readers are expected to explain why downtown was brought to a standstill.
What happened at Pat O’Malley’s home didn’t quite hit the mark, but he felt obligated to report the charges against him for other reasons.
For one, he’s a longstanding public figure in northeastern Ohio, someone who repeatedly asked for and received your vote, and police have charged him with a series of felonies. meet.
Another is transparency and accountability. He is the brother of the current public prosecutor and founder of the once-powerful Parma political apparatus. We think the public deserves to know if he gets special treatment, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
I’ve heard some feedback that clearly I shouldn’t have reported mental health issues, but I disagree.
However, we are here to serve you. I would love to hear your opinion on whether this was news or not. Our industry is constantly evolving and we try to avoid standing on tradition for the sake of tradition. We always try to ask ourselves why we do what we do. And we ask you too.
If you would like to share your position, please email us at [email protected].
thank you for reading.