Ask the Editor

Why so much murder trial coverage?

sduerr@thetribunenews.comMarch 21, 2013 

Sandra Duerr

Q: How do you have the nerve, or lack of conscience, to repeatedly put the losers who killed Dystiny Myers on the front page of The Tribune? — Craig Bitler

Q: As a paying customer for your product, I understand that coverage of murders such as Dystiny Myers is a draw for you. However, this is cheap journalism. Not true journalism like the article you had on Paso Robles’ historical photos on Sunday. … If you have to cover the murder trial, please put it on an inside page. I literally have to hide the paper from my child. — Niko Hadden, Nipomo

A: Clearly, our coverage of the Dystiny Myers case has struck a chord among readers. Although I understand your points of view, I respectfully disagree. Most of us in the newsroom are parents who find these types of stories wrenching to cover. As journalists, however, we cover all news — the good, the bad, the in-between. In the words of senior photographer David Middlecamp who has covered the trial in recent days, “As much as we would personally prefer to cover only uplifting stories, journalism is about reality, sometimes uncomfortable reality.”

Typically, we don’t cover murder trials this extensively. We’re doing so in this case because the killing of 15-year-old Dystiny is one of the most horrific murders that we’ve seen in the last decade in San Luis Obispo County — and chilling details are only now surfacing in court testimony because there has been a gag order on the case and court records have been sealed. Moreover, both a mother and son are among those charged with her murder. Our coverage also helps the public understand how well their justice system works, and that in itself bears scrutiny and front-page play.

In addition, the court testimony has been instructive in spotlighting problems that exist in our county — problems that all of us should better understand. Staff writer Patrick S. Pemberton, who has been reporting on the case, points to some of them:

• A reminder about the prevalent use of drugs in our county and the harmful effects of meth. “In this case, defendant Jason Greenwell said everyone was strung out on meth — he personally for a week straight — when the crime occurred,” Pemberton says. “And defendant Cody Lane Miller’s attorney, Gael Mueller, said Miller would have never committed this crime were it not for meth.’’

• A reminder about the plight of runaways like Dystiny.

• News that we have a skinhead community in our county that’s criminally active, according to witnesses.

Q: About a month ago, the Air Pollution Control District provided the public with an air quality forecast map which, for some reason, has not run in The Tribune. South County residents may be interested to know which monitoring station forecasts their neighborhood air quality. … Hopefully, The Tribune will publish this map before the windy season begins so residents will know their exposure and take precautions. — Rachelle Totis, Concerned Citizens for Clean Air

A: As you know, we have written frequently about air quality issues, especially in the South County. We do have a copy of the map and, if possible, will publish it when the Air Pollution Control Board meets March 27 to discuss the controversial dust issue on the Oceano Dunes. Thanks for asking.

Do you have a question about the newspaper, our website or our coverage? If so, please write me c/o The Tribune, P.O. Box 112, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406-0112, or email me at sduerr@thetribunenews.com  . Follow me on Twitter @SandraDuerr.

The Tribune is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service