Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Olympian

This newspaper used to be called “The Daily Olympian”. When I was growing up in Olympia, it was referred to as “The Daily O”. Before I present a personal critique, let me share an anecdote.

I remember waking up early in 4th grade and I went out to get the paper. Snow was everywhere. It was covering the driveway, the cars, the fauna, and the newspaper. The white was blinding even in the early morning sun. For those of you not familiar with the Puget Sound, this is rare sight. I wiped the snow off of the plastic covering of the hometown “community” newspaper, thrown at the doorstep from a “paperboy” in those days. The headline that day, taking up the majority of the “above the fold” portion, was “It’s Snowing!” I thought to myself, “Really?”.

My family arrived in Olympia in 1979 and there I remained until after high school. My father was a family physician who delivered hundreds of children in the area. I meet people all the time who let me know my father caught ‘em while they were leaving the comfort of their mother’s womb. He was old-school. He saw low income patients and insurance was an afterthought. When living out on some acreage in Boston Harbor (Yes, there is a strip of land in Olympia bordering the Puget Sound called Boston Harbor. Go figure.), my pop even took some chickens as payment once. We were part of the community. The population of Olympia, at that time, was just over 20,000. It was a small town.

I have always felt part of the community. I was overjoyed when the Army sent me back to the Puget Sound to fulfill my active duty commitment. I was home. We even bought a house in Olympia. Mechele immersed herself in the community with volunteer work, service at the local Catholic Church, and neighborly good will.

Let me now explain how this “community” paper acted when my wife was indicted. The day of the indictment they sent a photographer to take a picture of our home. The picture ended up taking up most of the front page with the obligatory mention of “stripper” permeating their story. I have written previously what I think of basing the media narrative on Mechele’s work as an exotic dancer during a short period of her life. It is inane. But, it does indeed sale newspapers. My home, where my daughter lives, however, is not a story.

The Olympian also sent some journalists to my daughter’s school to ask questions of staff who knew Mechele. My daughter actually remembers the commotion to this day. One journalist tried to contact us on multiple occasions. I have nothing against the guy personally, but his dealings with our personal space leave something to be desired. When he first contacted us, on our home phone, we were very gracious and let him know that any communication must first go through our lawyers. We informed him that our lawyers would then relay his requests to us and we would go from there. He didn’t seem to get it. Multiple times he would call our home and ask to speak with us. I have them all recorded. It is crazy to me that a journalist, who really wanted to communicate with us, would ignore our simple request. He even called as recently as two months ago, without contacting our lawyers first. Why would they do that? What are the responsibilities of a "community" newspaper?

Colin Linehan

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