What is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular. I grew up hearing that from my family and community. This statement connects to leadership and taking the unpopular path, something I try to do in my everyday life. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. It is never easy. Failures happen from time to time, but we have to accept the consequences.
After KOMU broke the news Boone County deputies arrested Mizzou head football coach Gary Pinkel for suspicion of DWI, the news world entered a Pinkel Palooza. Every news organization between Kansas City and St. Louis reported this story. At KOMU, we focused our early newscasts on every aspect of this story and the greater effects it had on the community. The next day, Pinkel pled guilty to driving while intoxicated and the Boone County Sheriff’s department released the footage of the dashboard camera the night deputies arrest him. KOMU aired this footage on its Facebook page and on its newscast as soon as the newsroom received it. By midnight, hundreds of posts flooded the Facebook page, most ripping the station a part for showing the dashboard video.
Before I went to bed, I watched the entire video of the dashboard camera and read every comment, post and tweet about the video. I felt so many emotions. I felt sad for Gary Pinkel as I watched the video, but I also couldn’t help but think he did this to himself. He dug his own grave. I was also appalled by the reaction of the public. People said they couldn’t believe KOMU would do this and the station reacted poorly. The pit in my stomach got bigger and bigger the more I read. Next thought that crossed my mind: people don’t get it. I understand where they are coming from, but I stand by the values I’ve been taught as a journalist and think we as a news organization would not be doing our duty to the public if we didn’t air the video. We have to look at the bigger picture at hand:
- We started this story and we had to finish it. We just continued our report from the day before and gave the public every detail and piece of information out there
- This video give the viewers and audience their perspective and make own opinions about Pinkel and the deputies.
- Pinkel is a public figure. He does not have the same right to privacy as you or I do. He lives his life in the public eye and has to deal with the scrutiny of the news media. He is one of the highest, if not the highest paid employee in Mid-missouri. People care about this because he is the coach of a public university. We pay his salary… his large salary.
- The public owns the video and has a right to see it.
- All the other stations had the same video.
Gary Pinkel made a mistake. He is a leader in this community and should have acted above his behavior on Wednesday night. He did not do the right thing and has to endure the effects of his actions. KOMU did the right thing in airing the footage from the dashboard camera. The news organization followed protocol and its ethics to give the public every piece of information possible. It isn’t popular with a lot of Tiger fans, but was the right thing for a credible news organization to do.