We’ve been getting some heat for our handling of the heroin story.
More precisely, I’m getting heat, for example Anne Bretts here, John Thomas here and here, Frank Anderson here on LG and here on N.org. There are probably others I’ve missed. I’m sure many others of you have criticisms that you’ve not expressed, either because you’re shy or you think I’ll bite your heads off.
So let me address the chonology of events and then let’s discuss whatever else. And despite the photo of my two black eyes from a few years back (click to enlarge), I’m not prone to violence or defensiveness. I’ve got a pretty thick skin so no need to be gentle with your criticisms.
See the extended entry for the chronology of events.
Was this citizen journalism? I think much of it was. And some members of the mainstream media have seen what’s been going on here on Locally Grown and realized that between the citizens blogging and the citizens commenting, we’ve managed to offer something unique and valuable that can’t easily be done otherwise.
But I could be wrong, so Anne, John, Frank, and others, please repost (copy/paste is fine) your criticisms and I’ll address them. Others (Ross and Tracy, too!), chime in as you see fit.
- June 22: Kurt Larsen alerted me to the June 18 story in the Pioneer Press which ended with: “Falkowski said she has been monitoring the media for signs of heroin abuse in upscale schools for years, without finding evidence of the suburban drug trends evident in other states. That changed several months ago with reports of a heroin network among high school students in Northfield.”
I phoned Chief Gary Smith and he verified the story. I blogged it with the headline: ‘Heroin network at the Northfield High School’
- June 23: Chief Smith posted to his blog about the Pioneer Press story’s heroin reference and linked to the discussion on Locally Grown (he’s since removed the post)
- July 2, 8 pm: I posted Chief Smith’s press release announcing a press conference
- July 3, morning: Northfield News and the Pioneer Press ran stories prior to Smith’s press conference
- July 3, evening: Twin Cities TV stations ran stories on the press conference; Chief Smith defended his numbers in a blog comment; I blogged the audio of the press conference.
- July 4: StarTribune front page story
- July 4: NCO Board member Cynthia Child blogs her coverage of the Chief’s press conference
- July 5: I posted a copy of the Hazelden report in which the researcher wrote, “Outside of the Twin Cities metro area, heroin addiction emerged among high school students in Northfield, Minnesota…”
- July 5: MPR aired an interview with the Hazelden researcher in which she says, “From people I’ve talked with anecdotally who are related … have connections at the high school…”
- July 6: I posted a copy of Supt. Richardson’s response
- July 7: Northfield News ran several heroin-related stories (I linked to them from here)
- July 9: Star Tribune’s Katherine Kersten column
- July 9: I posted the straw poll
- July 11: Northfield News ran several stories. I linked to them.
- July 11: I blogged the audio of the Mayor’s Task Force
- July 11, 4:20 PM: I changed the title of the blog post from ‘Heroin network at the Northfield High School’ to ‘Heroin use among high school students in Northfield.’ I included an apology with an explanation on why I thought it happened.
- July 11, 5:30 PM: Our radio show aired live on KYMN with Chief Smith and Supt. Richardson; 5:40 PM: MPR aired a story about the controversy; 8:4 PM: I posted the podcast of the radio show; 10 PM: I blogged the results of the straw poll
- July 4-11: I interviewed two parents, one teacher, and three youth via phone and F2F, part of an ongoing attempt to verify anonymous posters and gain a better understanding of the situation.
- July 16: I attended the forum at The Key and blogged photos
- July 17, 11 am: I got an internal police department email, announcing the Chief’s leave. I phoned the sender to verify how they got it. I phoned the Chief, the mayor, the city admin, the acting chief, attempting to verify. At 2:45 PM, I got a verification from Ross that he spoke to a staff person at the police dept. who verified it and then I blogged it.
- June 22 – ongoing: I moderated the discussions in several blog comment threads, removing some posts, insisting on civility, etc.