Journalists and editors are used to taking flack for a variety of things.
Sometimes it’s about something that we’ve pondered and discussed, and knew it would possibly offend some people but there was sufficient news value that we decided to run it. (Ironically, after all our hand-wringing, sometimes these things end up getting no comment or criticism whatsoever — and we heave a big sigh of relief.)
Other things seem to come completely out of left field and whack us over the head.
So it was with our story about teenager Dallas MacLeod going missing again.
Some readers seemed to feel that we used the word “again” in the headline as a way to minimize the importance of MacLeod being missing.
Quite the contrary.
We thought it was highly relevant that she’s already gone missing a few times just this year. Far from making it less important, in many ways this fact makes her disappearance more important.
When a teen regularly goes missing it seems clear she is living a high-risk lifestyle. Because of this, the fear is that, one of these times when we report her missing, we will not be able to report soon after that she’s been found safe and sound. Instead we will have to report her death or serious injury. We don’t want to do that.
So when we say “again” we are trying to communicate a sense of urgency, not a sense of ho-hum.
We’re talking about a 17-year-old girl who should be thinking about college and the future, but it seems unlikely that she is.
However, look at how young she is. She has so many years ahead of her, years that can be good years. I was a little disturbed by some of the comments from people suggesting everyone should just abandon her to her fate and that her family reporting her missing each time is just a waste of police resources. Abandon a 17-year-old as a lost cause? Stop reporting her missing? Also apparently missing for some folks is compassion. Here’s hoping they can find some. There’s all kinds of potential to turn a troubled teen’s life in a more positive, happy direction.
She is fortunate to have a family that is trying to keep track of her, and does report her missing, no matter how often that might occur. Because she matters.
Which is why, should she be reported missing again in the future the Citizen will report it, again.