Well, our beloved editors over at the Gastonia Gazette must have really run out of news to publish.
On Friday, the Gazette began publishing bankruptcy filings as listed by the court system. What once was a required public notice posting through classified ad listing of the legal filing, now has been distilled to the basics: name, address, type of filing, and case number.
In the interest of public service, the Gazette allocated in-house resources to distill the information to the “gentle” reading public. In the Gazette’s eyes, why subject readers to the mind-numbing review of legalese that accompany the court documents? Let’s get down to the chase – just the facts: name, address, type of filing, and case number.
The outlash was immediate and very negative from the readers, a sample:
“I have been fortunate that I have not had to file bankruptcy, but I very much resent the fact that any person or family that has fallen on hard times must be exposed to further embarrassment. Does the Gazette not realize that a lot of these folks may have worked hard all their lives, lost their job due to textiles closing or possibly a family member taking ill? As a paralegal I can tell you that everyone has problems, but for the Gazette to zero in on this is sickening. Surely the paper can find a more note worthy way to fill up its extra space. I for one did not read those names listed and I encourage others not too. Shame on the Gazette for their lack of compassion” – Maryann
“I realize that this information IS public record, but how about using a little bit of good judgement here?” – Disappointed
“At best this is dumb, at worst it is a horrific attempt by the Gazette to embarrass folks already hit by heartache. You telling me news is so slow in Gastonia today that we need to publicly humiliate these folks? Really, this is in poor taste guys.” – Gouranga
We agree with the majority on this one – keep the listing where it is required. There is no need to distill the public record further in this type of circumstance. if they wish to pursue these types of records, why not fully investigate the failure of certain businesses or even industries? Usually, the well-connected Gazette/Chamber link glosses over business closings, and then only if they impact 50 or more people. There are hundreds of small businesses established every year, and there are hundreds of failures.
The Chamber makes a big deal out of groundbreakings, ribbon-cuttings, and position announcements. How about mentoring, monitoring, and rewarding the small privately owned businesses, rather than focusing on a family’s failure or circumstances which are sometimes beyond their own control.
The Consumer Credit Counseling program of Family Service, Inc, has a tremendous process to help families overcome mounting debt-related issues. One or twice a year the Gazette does an article about this critical community nonprofit. The bully pulpit opportunity that the Gazette wields in this case could be used for much more good than to embarass people in this manner.
Gazette, instead of the full-page ads touting your “community service” and “sponsorships”, why not do more to encourage the financial education and mentoring that is needed to gain true freedom. The very freedom that is expressed as your mission.