Newspaper Publishes Map Pinpointing Iowa Schools Lacking Security

Image: Newspaper Publishes Map Pinpointing Iowa Schools Lacking Security Des Moines Register map displaying which Iowa public schools have no security. Red dots on the map are schools with no security guard, green dots represent schools with a security guard, gray dots are schools that did not respond to inquiries. The map is interactive: Click on a dot and you will receive detailed information about that school’s location and security (see image on the right).

Thursday, 28 Mar 2013 12:51 PM

By Megan Anderle

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Just months after The Journal News in White Plains, N.Y., published an interactive map flagging all residents in three counties who legally owned pistols, The Des Moines Register published a map pinpointing which Iowa schools are adequately protected and which ones lack security.

The interactive map was still online Wednesday afternoon and allowed users to click on schools to get the name and number of students enrolled. The map was taken down after editors reportedly received phone calls from concerned readers that the map would help potential criminals target schools that don’t have security.

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Des Moines Register Metro Editor Cathy Bolton said the map and accompanying story were part of a “larger look at school resource officers."

The story revealed 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.

The interactive map, which identified more than 100 public schools, from kindergarten through high school and community college campuses, was taken down for editing and will be back up, a Register editor said.

“All of us in the media have to be incredibly thoughtful and even more vigilant about balancing the need to report with how folks can perceive our work in the light of what happened at Sandy Hook. 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," the editor said.

Many of the newspaper's readers didn't agree, as comments posted on the story were generally negative.

"Apologies will not suffice. Not this time. Children's lives were placed at risk, This is nothing short gross negligence let alone journalistic malpractice. I demanding Editor Green fire those responsible for this article and then follow that with his resignation!" wrote Ed Thompson.

"This is UNBELIEVABLE! The Des Moines Register and the author of this article will be directly responsible for any and all fallout from a STUPID, STUPID article like this. I will pray that you do not end up with blood on your hands, but if you do, mark my words, this will be a court case like none known to exist," wrote another user, Dixie Belluchi-Watters.

"I am DISGUSTED that your newspaper would post such a map and put your state's children in jeopardy. The map was interactive and YOU DID get the district and where it was located and # of students -- not hard to figure out if you want to do something harmful. SHAME ON YOU," wrote Facebook user Amanda Rieter.

The schools map appeared two months after The Journal News owned by Gannett, which also owns the Des Moines Register sparked outrage when it identified all pistol-owning residents of the New York counties of Westchester, Putnam, and Rockland.

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The gun-owner map's publication, which came less than two weeks after the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, garnered widespread criticism and thousands of comments and shares on social media, prompting the editors to take it down. The map is currently back online with a FAQ section.

Many considered the gun-owner map as a public shaming of people who weren't doing anything illegal and merely owned lawful, registered guns.


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