The love-hate relationship readers have with a crime reporter

Posted: January 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

Trust me. I get it. I suck at reporting, I’m a yellow journalist and I can’t even spell grammar correctly if it was my last name.

I love the several hundred e-mails I get throughout the week as a crime reporter, even those reminding me how worthless I am. Most do serve a good constructive purpose.

I decided to share just a few of the recent e-mails (names NOT included) I have received … for no real purpose other than sharing. Enjoy.

Here is one e-mail in its entirety I received over this past weekend. I think it is proof that I still have a long way to go as a crime reporter since I have yet to report on this one:

“I guess that you are not going to alert the reading public to the fact that they are paying cops to rape and murder.  Why is that?  Do you not think that they deserve to know this?  Or what?”

Hmm… sounds like a good story. I better look into that one. I wish I knew who “they” were, but then again “they” probably don’t want me to know right now.

In reference to an article published Jan. 15 on a 19-hour police standoff in Los Alamos with former Los Alamos National Laboratory weapons physicist Richard Lee Morse, I received several e-mails, all but one very complimentary of the reporting on the story. Then there was this one that seemed most upset with a reference from a police officer suggesting a .30-06 rifle is a powerful gun:

“It can’t even be called journalism- better fit for the grocery check out stand along with news of the last sighting of Elvis. What garbage.

… to publish this is irresponsible Pulitzer yellow journalism at its worse. One wonders about this grammer person as well.”

That e-mail was signed by a man who said he was an engineer and mathematician who once lived in Los Alamos when it was “still a closed and ‘secret’ town” and he now lives in the Ozark Mountains.

The same article was linked on the Twitter feed @NiceReporting, which is established by a former newspaper reporter, magazine editor and journalism professor.He tweeted:

“First rate job by Geoff Grammer, especially critical bio about physicist SEE Police seize guns after Los Alamos standoff”

Interesting enough, that site has a companion site — @SloppyReporting — which an article of mine was featured in November (the article on former Sheriff Greg Solano resigning amid the eBay scandal). On that tweet, Jim Wilson wrote:

“Reporters: Is this happening in your town?”

So I’m thinking that link was more about reporters (all of us in Santa Fe) letting this scandal happen under our noses as opposed to the article itself being sloppy. … at least I hope that was the case.

Over the past 6-7 weeks there has been a rash of catalytic converter thefts in Santa Fe. Some thanked me, some suggested I was giving thieves ideas (never mind the fact that catalytic converter thefts is a growing national trend). I will say I was the only local reporter doing this story in early December when it was still at about 10 catalytic converters stolen before updating it 10 days ago on Jan. 7 when it was at around 100. After that story, Santa Fe Police put out a press release last week and TV and other media outlets then began reporting on the story.

Here are snippets from two e-mails on that topic:

“I wanted to thank you for your article about the current rash of stolen converters around this area. Hopefully this will make people more careful about where they are parking their vehicles.”

But then there is the flip side…

“Sometimes less is more. In my opinion as a risk manager, you should have not shared the value of the metals in the catalytic converters. Yes it is public information, but this type of detail just spoon-feeds thieves and fences. Word of mouth travels fast enough in these circles.

As readers, we need information, but I think we get too many details just to fill space or satisfy the need for some people to know every little bit of everything. Consider the WikiLeaks debacle.”

In December, I reported on a rape story. Here are two bits of feedback I got on that story:

“Thanks for continuing to shed light on all the sexual abuse going on in our community. It isn’t happy news, obviously, but it’s important you keep doing your part to expose the problem and not ignore it like other outlets sometimes do with rape coverage.”

And again, the flip side…

“Shame on you, Geoff. Shame on you.”


So there are just a few of the recent e-mails I love getting, even if they sometimes confuse me. There is no real point to posting this blog other than sharing with some of you regulars to this blog.

Well, that and I’m bored at home with no Monday Night Football or College Football National Championship on TV tonight so I figured I better find a different way to waste my life away on a Monday night and this is the result.

  1. Supermarkmtz says:

    Haha, funny post. I see all the misdirected frustration that comes your way on the crime story comments. Stick with it, I don’t recall Santa Fe ever having a dedicated crime reporter. We’ve only ever had the police notes and they omit certain crimes for some reason. The sheriff’s notes usually match the SFCSO hotsheets but the city notes don’t seem to include everything. You’ve become an important check and balance with law enforcement that we’ve never had before.

    I’m thinking of signing up for the SF Police Citizen’s Academy, as a learning opportunity. Perhaps you would want to look into it as well or do a story and encourage some of these frustrated citizens to get involved too. Only $35 for 12 weeks (one evening class a week) and dinner is included!


  2. Jose says:

    Estimado Geoff,

    Yeah, your right-on! Stay focus on what you do. It is all good in my books. Sometimes people may not like what you write, but again, who cares. Take care and God Bless.

    Chaplain Jose

  3. J Gabaldon says:

    I appreciate specific information in any article, as opposed to vague references. I don’t usually read your articles, but I hope you are not following the trend of beginning sentences with the word “And” or “So”. I am amazed at how many times I see this in magazines and newspapers, as well as online. I learned better grammer in my 7th grade English class, where Mrs. Hewitt basically told us we would master English or we would not move on to the 8th grade. Little does she know, she is one of my heros.

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