Tags: map | schools | Iowa | guards

Outrage as Paper Publishes Map Pinpointing Schools Without Guards

Thursday, 28 Mar 2013 02:40 PM

By Megan Anderle

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Iowa’s biggest newspaper is under fire after publishing online an interactive map pinpointing schools in the state that have no security guards.

The Des Moines Register quickly took down the map as complaints flooded in to its website calling for the heads of those responsible.

The flap follows a similar one from earlier this year when the Journal News in Westchester County, N.Y., published a similar map showing where people with gun permits lived.

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The Register said only 54 public schools in the state confirmed having guards. The paper did not get a full response from all 348 schools in the state

The interactive map allowed users to click on schools to get the name and number of students enrolled. Red dots marking those without  security, green those with and gray those that did not respond. The map was overwhelmingly red.

It was taken down hours after it was published after concerns were raised that the map would help potential criminals target schools that don’t have security.

The Des Moines Register reported in the story, which is now online without the map, that at least 54 Iowa public school districts out of 348 in the state have a police officer or private security guard stationed at one or more of the schools during some part of the school day, a survey found.

Complaints flooded in from readers, even after the map was removed. “Apologies will not suffice. Not this time. Children's lives were placed at risk,” wrote Ed Thompson of Council Bluffs. He said editor Rick Green should “fire those responsible for this article and then follow that with his resignation!”

Rebecca Ann Taylor added, “I do not understand how you can be so reckless and think this is actually newsworthy!”

And David Carlo from Ottumwa High School described the decision to publish the map as “very poor,” adding, “Every one knows that schools are gun free zones and thus an easy target for sick people wanting to inflict mass casualties.

“Keep it generic for the children's safety,” added Carlo. “56 schools have a resource officer in the school, 200 have none and 100 did not respond to the survey. This gets the facts across without putting any lives in harm's way.”

But Cathy Bolton, the paper’s Metro Editor, defended the decision. She said the map and accompanying story was part of a “larger look at school resource officers."

Editor Green told Glenn Beck’s website The Blaze, he had not seen the map until it was published and he pulled it down "for revision."

“I’ll tell you, nothing is more important to me than protecting the students, school teachers and administrators and safeguarding a community against any kind of violence.

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“We got a couple of phone calls from readers who were concerned about a map, took it down immediately, re-adjusted it," Green said.

"I’m not going to make the same mistake that has unfortunately plagued some other newsrooms about sensitivity. I try to be fair and responsible and not do anything reckless. I love my job too much.

“I love the role that we play here in Iowa, and I care too much about the safety of school teachers and students to do anything so that people would think we were being reckless and heartless. I just don’t operate that way.”



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