November 26, 2013

Weekly owns a national story

For the last week, The Recorder, a weekly newspaper serving Virginia's Bath and Highland counties, has been on top of a national story -- the attempted murder of state Sen. Creigh Deeds, the 2009 Democratic nominee for governor, by his mentally ill son, for whom a mental-health bed was not available in the area. The paper is still on top of it today, with an interview in which Deeds says he will fight for better mental-health services for rural Virginia.
I am alive for a reason, and I will work for change,” Deeds told Editor-Publisher Anne Adams. “I owe that to my precious son,” who killed himself with a rifle after repeatedly stabbing his father Tuesday, Nov. 19.

Deeds said he thinks the Rockbridge Community Services Board, the regional mental-health agency, is responsible for the incident because it said there were no mental-health beds available in western Virginia after Bath Community Hospital evaluated Gus Deeds, 24, and "recommended he be admitted to a mental-health facility," Adams and reporter Margo Oxendine write.

“I hope we can make a positive change as a result of this tragedy,” Deeds told Adams. “My life’s work now is to make sure other families don’t have to go through what we are living. . . . I hope the justice we can get for my son is to force change in the delivery system for mental health services. Bath and Highland are the end of the line. . . . It seems inconvenient for those people to provide services here. I have heard from people in Rockbridge [County] about lack of services, too, so I think there may be a bigger problem here.”

Deeds' remarks are already circulating nationally, but The Recorder's coverage is now behind a pay wall, and you can hardly fault Adams for that. She owns the story, as she should, and has allowed free access to the paper's earlier stories. The Richmond Times-Dispatch's story today is based largely on The Recorder's interview with Deeds.

Adams told us in an email that the paper reported the incident online no more than 90 minutes after the news broke, and confirmed the involvement of Gus Deeds for its readers and other news media after they picked up the story. She said the paper posted several stories and also used Facebook, then had a full story in its Thursday print edition, all of which was online Wednesday night.

Adams said she reached out to Deeds Monday morning, and "I gather from the volume of calls I'm getting he has not chosen to respond to other reporters yet, but I'm sure he will when he's ready. Lots of healing ahead of him."

No comments: