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Know the West

An earned rebuke


God bless High Country News for its fearless and productive investigative reporting, as in “Justice denied” (HCN, 5/16/16). Responsible investigative journalism, perhaps above all other genres, must be precise in distinguishing between claims and evidence. 

But: “ ‘They just want your money.’ What a public defender told Sue M., when asked if he could do anything to reduce her fine,” doesn’t reflect or even suggest that distinction. All that the otherwise skillful author had to add was “according to Sue,” or the like. That’s a small but vital distinction in this kind of writing. As well, the allegation may be grossly unfair to the overworked and underpaid public defender, and to Sue herself. As Jonathan Swift reminded us, zeal will indeed do us in. 

Dick Shohet
Carlisle, Massachusetts