Tuesday morning, the Peoria Journal Star newspaper published a story about Kevin, Tyler, and their treatment at the Woodford County Jail (“Website accusations spur phone calls to Woodford County Jail“). Problem was, they got almost everything wrong.
They paper also made the mistake of linking to this site, so that we are able to tell their readers what a poor reporting job was done. We are grateful for the chance to address its readership directly.
Six examples of sloppy reporting in the Peoria Star article
The reporter never contacted this site, nor any spokesperson for Kevin & Tyler. Getting both sides of the story is fundamental to any reporting done with integrity. We’re sure Laura Nightengale is not proud to admit: She never contacted us.
Despite this website featuring heavily in the article, we were never contacted. Instead, she relied entirely on quotes from the police.
Starting with that blunder, it should come as no surprise the article avoided adequately and directly addressing any of Kevin & Tyler’s grievances.
The ban on access to commissary and phones was not addressed (as of yesterday, these were restored, presumably due to outside pressure and media scrutiny).
The article did not address the jail-wide ban on incoming books which took place hours after their wish list was made public. The issue was skirted by the article, which stated there is a “jail library” (a cart of books with mostly bibles and fiction) – a point entirely unrelated to the ban on incoming books.
The article states they are receiving vegan meals. They are not receiving vegan meals. No one makes up lies about being starved for fun. As confirmed by Kevin & Tyler daily, they continue to not be provided vegan meals.
There was no attempt to counter the revoking of Kevin & Tyler’s ability to file grievances, and there were no quotes from the police addressing this.
The reporter did not challenge the police on jail guard Dennis Wertz’s overt threats to Kevin Olliff that he have this website taken down or his commissary and email would be taken away (which they subsequently were).
The only part the police were honest about is the ban on email, which they admit was instituted after the “disruptive response” (phone calls to the jail) created when Tyler & Kevin emailed information about the book ban and inadequate food.
Holding journalists accountable
This is where it becomes problematic for a reporter to speak only to one side (the police): When these inaccuracies in sloppy reporting are able to be pointed out publicly, and by those who can speak to the facts. That is, those who actually speak with Kevin & Tyler daily. Again, we were never contacted to counter statements from the police with Kevin & Tyler’s own words.
We are anticipate a major announcement tomorrow that will put the Woodford County Jail under an all new level of scrutiny. Check back Wednesday.