The Backstory: How we Covered Allegations Against Navy Master Chief

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.

5 thoughts on “The Backstory: How we Covered Allegations Against Navy Master Chief

  1. As of this morning there are at least 117 entries. Sadly, only a few have any comment regarding the victim and that in this county is quite typical.

  2. Saying you don’t target the Navy, is like the Klan saying they are not rascist. The Bremerton/Kitsap Sun has gone out of its way to discredit the military for 20+ years. I know of at least three CO’s that have called the paper on your tactic of headlining every infraction by a Navy member with \Navy … accused\, \Sailor arrested…\. In this headline you clearly tie NAVY, MASTER CHIEF, RAPE… funny in the first stories of a Port Orchard MINISTER was accused you use \sex crimes\ and \sex abuse allegations\, only using rape when quoting the charges. Out of 8 stories in the Sun on the Minister, rape was only used in the headline once and then the title minimized it! Ditto for Hibbard and Roberts from Eglon, sorry Sun your coverage of these two pale in comparison to the treatment a Navy man gets at the drop of an accusation. In the separate cases of Isham, Creed and Schlichting you fail to mention any job data, so we just don’t know if they were a teachers, ministers, Sun reporters … ALL OF THESE CRIMES ARE DESPICABLE, but so is the SUN’s sensationalizing anything that might give the Navy a black eye.

  3. fender, If the Sun mentioned the minister’s church, that is the same as using the military label, otherwise you may have a point it seems to me.
    Sharon O’Hara

  4. Sharon, my point was that with the cases involving the Navy, the headlines emphasis their Navy job and state the allegation/crime as forcefully as they can. In other cases, such as the Minister, they down play the crime — they almost read like someone reporting a traffic ticket!!! You have to admit “accused of sex crimes” or “sex abuse allegations” just isn’t the same as “charged with two counts of child rape” yet the cases were very similar offenses. Teachers, ministers, priests, military, etc… can ALL commit this despicable acts — sensationalizing one group and downplaying another runs the risk of isolating a victim or keeping a crime from being reported since that teacher, minister, just wouldn’t do that. Other local papers have got it right, are consistent in their reporting — neither sensationalizing or downplaying these acts.

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