Letter to the editor


The current discussion of publishing names for those accused of crimes is not a new one, whether in Pitt-Johnstown’s halls or a professional newsroom.

Journalists are duty-bound to publish the name. The public has the right to know who is being accused of crimes and who is using public resources in resolving of these crimes. The public has the right to know whether their neighbor, friend or someone at their school is alleged to have committed a crime, especially more violent ones such as murder, robbery, and rape.

However, before you say that you want to know the alleged murderers, but not a minor crime, that leads to a slippery slope. Who determines the crimes and who determines special exceptions?

I understand the reticence by an accused person of having his or her name in the newspaper for an alleged crime, but it is the government’s responsibility to prove guilt, not the newspaper’s. Witnesses for and against the accused have come forward to police, after reading the original article.

Even if Pitt-Johnstown petitioners are successful in any attempt to squelch the First Amendment rights of their fellow students, they have no standing to do the same to any outside newspaper or television station that wishes to print the same material and no ability to stop police or the court system from providing the information to journalists or any other person.

I support The Advocate and anyone in the Pitt-Johnstown community who understands the importance of a free press at school and throughout this country.

Kent Smith

Nottingham, MD

Journalism, Class of ‘95, former Advocate editor-in-chief