Crime stories are among the most important articles a student newspaper can publish in order to inform its readers. However, obtaining the information for these stories tends to be unnecessarily difficult – at least, it has been for The Gatepost.
Through our crime reporting, we at The Gatepost provide a vital service to the University by raising awareness about on-campus incidents which could endanger community members.
Virtually every college experiences some level of crime. And we, as student journalists, are dependent on information provided in police reports in order to accurately deliver the news to our readers.
Unfortunately, it has become increasingly arduous to acquire police records and reports from our own campus police.
We aim to deliver news with as much information as possible, citing reputable sources with an unbiased opinion. As an editorial board, we believe the more we all know about our campus community, the safer we all will be.
It’s hard to provide thorough evidence about a crime when we are denied access to information that should rightfully be disclosed to students at a public university.
According to the Student Press Law Center, a nonprofit organization that aims at protecting the freedom of the press for student journalists, “All colleges – public and private are subject to the federal Clery Act, which requires them to maintain logs disclosing the ‘what, where and when’ of serious reported crimes. In almost all states, a public college must disclose ‘incident reports’ that give a more detailed narrative of the investigator’s observations.”
Last week, one of our reporters didn’t receive information about an FSU student assault that had been published in a MetroWest Daily News article. Because that information wasn’t made available, we believe our reporting lacked details that should be available to our readers.
According to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of The Press (RCFP), a nonprofit organization that provides legal assistance to journalists, “Anyone can get any police record at anytime upon request. The record may be redacted to remove bits of information such as witness and victim’s names and addresses. After a redaction takes place, [the custodian] must explain in writing to the requester what information was redacted and the specific reasons why the record was sanitized.”
We at The Gatepost want to have better cooperation from FSUPD in order to be able to provide the most accurate and complete information to our readers. We appreciate all they do to keep FSU community members safe, but it also our responsibility to educate our readers, and making them aware of any Framingham State-related crimes is part of that obligation.
According to the RCFP, as an accredited police agency, FSUPD should, at the very least, “assist the requester in obtaining the desired information and to ensure that the request is delivered to the appropriate party.”
Additionally, we believe that Framingham State can do even more to release information and promote safety on campus beyond the limits required by federal law.
We at The Gatepost are dedicated to providing the campus with the information that it needs and deserves, and we expect FSUPD to do the same.