The Backstory: How we Covered Allegations Against Navy Master ChiefFebruary 4th, 2009 by josh farley
As I write this, a Kitsap Sun story today about a former Navy chief of boat charged with child rape has 65 comments below it. Clearly, it has generated a lot of buzz.
Here’s some background about how this story came to pass:
We received numerous tips from callers and emailers in these past few weeks, giving small pieces of information here and there, but nothing that could be substantiated. Therefore, we held off in our reporting, not giving into the rumor mill.
That all changed yesterday when, as we examined the new felony cases coming out of the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office, Mr. Jones’ name came up. The police report said he was chief of boat, confirming some of the rumors.
I worked with Navy spokesman Kyle Raines and Kitsap County Sheriff’s Spokesman Scott Wilson to solidify the facts. We learned Jones was in the hospital and would be arrested upon his release from both spokesmen.
In general, we do not name individuals unless they’ve been charged with a crime. There are exceptions (a politician being arrested is one such we’d consider). In this case, with the issuance of the arrest warrant, there were charges.
Some of the story commenters have felt the Kitsap Sun and its staff tends to pick on its local Navy personnel, and naming his job title was a way to give the Navy a black eye.
I can say with certainty that we always discuss putting a profession with a name of a defendant — if we have it — and we place emphasis on doing so if they are in a position of leadership or are public officials (and thus are paid with taxpayer dollars).
This case, in that light, was no different.