Editor’s note: Under Ohio law, conceal carry licenses are not covered by public record laws. There is a journalist exception, but journalists are only allowed to view the license information and can’t take notes or make copies of the records (meaning journalists must memorize what they see). An attempt was made in the 2011-12 General Assembly to remove this journalistic exception and force journalists to receive a court order to view conceal carry licenses, but the bill did not move.
The Journal News honored victims of the Newtown, Conn., shooting on its front page Christmas Day with memorial candles that named the 26 students and staff killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. The paper chose a less lyrical approach last weekend, when — in response to the shooting – it published maps with the names and home addresses of people who had been issued pistol permits in Westchester County, where the Gannett paper is based, and nearby Rockland County.
Readers were outraged, as were conservative commentators. Soon after the paper published the data, acquired through Freedom of Information requests, bloggers published what they believe to be the home addresses of Gannett CEO Gracia Martore, the paper’s publisher, its editor, and the story’s reporter.
That response seems entirely appropriate to Poynter senior faculty Al Tompkins, who said by email: “I hope any journalist who does this is willing to be accessible and responsive. If it is unfettered openness you want, you jolly well better set the example.”
- Where The Journal News went wrong in publishing names, addresses of gun owners (from Poynter)
- Newspaper That Published Gun-Owner Addresses Gets Its Staff’s Info Outed (from The Atlantic Wire)