COLUMBIA - In early April, KOMU 8 News reported on allegations that an Audrain County teacher inflicted "emotional abuse" that lead to the hospitalization of a student.
A concerned parent reached out to KOMU 8 News and enclosed a letter they received from the Community R-VI School District a week earlier. An investigation by the school found the allegations to be false after talking with witnesses.
Some viewers questioned the quality of reporting on this story. After KOMU 8 News said there would be more information at 10 p.m., viewers were upset the story had no new information later that night.
Christina Loyd wrote on our Facebook page, "I hope if you're going to continue with this story KOMU, that you report more details and facts and not just stir the pot."
Janet Ward Swope wrote on our Facebook page, "So why are you reporting on a nonissue?"
Rebekah Fiedler followed up with, "I agree it's vague, but the article probably shouldn't exist at all. Since there was an investigation and the claims were found to be false, if they even publish the name of the teacher there could be libel involved."
Sandy Davidson teaches Media Law at the University of Missouri and said there are several reasons why media outlets choose not to publish the name of someone involved.
"There are many reasons not to publish an identity," Davidson said. "One is if your not certain and another is to avoid publishing false information before you have all facts. Sometimes its out of concern for victims to not cause more emotional distress and sometimes it's to protect a person because if you use the name it could put the person at risk for physical harm."
Davidson said she thinks not publishing a name will cause some people to question why the story was covered at all.
"If a station is going to do a story and not identify all the parties in the conflict, then some viewers will view it as vague and maybe nebulous," said Davidson, "Sometimes the question is what was really the point of the story?"
KOMU 8 Content manager Matt Johnson said the story was assigned after getting a letter sent to parents addressing concerns with a teacher.
"Anytime a school is investigating one of its own teachers, we find that newsworthy regardless of what the findings revealed," Johnson said.
Johnson said KOMU 8 reported the story as it developed and covered its bases.
"What a lot of people don't realize is that news develops throughout the day," said Johnson. "We make sure that we're covering our bases and going on the air with accurate information, but we're not always going to have all the information right away. It doesn't mean we can't report what we do know right away as long as we're being fair."
So, what do you think? Did KOMU 8 make the right decision by covering this story? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, Google-Plus or email us at [email protected]
Then watch KOMU 8 News at Six on Friday to catch your view of the news.