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Your View: Family Upset About House Fire Coverage

Posted: Sep 11, 2012 11:04 AM by Meghann Mollerus and Danielle McCarthy
Updated: Sep 11, 2012 3:32 PM

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BOONE COUNTY - In August, KOMU 8 News covered a developing story that began as a house fire near Harrisburg and ended with the homeowner behind bars. KOMU 8 took a closer look at whether its story cast an unfair light on the family involved.

On Aug. 17, a house fire completely destroyed the Penrose family's home. In KOMU 8's Matt Evans's coverage of the fire, he followed up on and reported what allegedly happened the day after--when investigators were on the scene. Jailers said on the day of the incident, the homeowner, Thomas Penrose, was volatile and wouldn't cooperate. Authorities charged him with second-degree assault of an officer, third degree assault and resisting arrest. Penrose posted bond shortly after his arrest, Boone County jail records indicate.

But, there is part of the story Penrose's wife, Amanda, said KOMU 8 left out. She wrote on the KOMU Facebook page, "...this negative publicity isn't helping us when they make my husband look like a psycho crazy man, saying they don't know what set him off. He consumed two to three bottles of liquor within two hours. The media as well as law enforcement know this information but yet failed to mention it."

Evans said he didn't know. "What I knew was what I reported. What I knew was what the sheriff's department told me, and that was it."

Thomas Penrose's wife also claimed KOMU 8 didn't give the accused a chance to apologize. However, since the story aired, Evans said he has attempted to reach out to the family to give them that opportunity.

"I would be more than happy to sit down with them and have a conversation and say hey, if that's what really happened, let me know. But I didn't know," Evans said.

Of KOMU 8's decision to report on both the house fire and subsequent alleged assault, KOMU 8 Executive Producer Randy Reeves said, ""I think any reporter covering a house fire is going to have empathy for a family that lost their home. The fact of the matter is if the next day, someone is accused of assaulting a police officer and assault of an insurance agent, that's gonna be news, and there's nothing we can do to change that."

[In light of this Your View segment, KOMU 8 reached out to the Penrose family for comment. Thomas Penrose's sister, Cecelia Penrose, did express the family's interest in commenting but stopped correspondences upon KOMU 8's attempts to schedule the interview.]

So, what do you think? Did KOMU 8 violate the family's privacy in covering the story? Should KOMU 8 not have reported details of Penrose's confrontation with the insurance adjuster and the sheriff's deputies? Let us know by commenting on this article or on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. Please tune in each Friday at 6 p.m., as we bring you "your view" of the news.

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