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Scold the Front Page?

 Published on: 2nd July 2015   |   By: Nik Allen

That headline isn’t a typo that’s slipped through the net.

It relates to a recent story we ran on the front cover of our latest Bushey publication.

The article was about a paedophile called Gary Riley who lived in Sparrows Herne in the village.

john o reilly- southbedsnews agency- luton.. (fairlys) 07850 840246..pic..gary riley...jailed for indecident images

Gary Riley was jailed for four years for his depraved crimes.

The report was sent into us from a court agency who we regularly use and who we trust.

The article contained disturbing details about the depravity of Riley’s behaviour he had amassed more than 125,000 indecent images of children as young as six months old being abused.

It was then brought to my attention about a discussion on social media local mums were having on the article. Before looking at the comments I had prepared myself for a barrage of negative comments related to our decision to cover the article.

Social media has been a platform in the past where we’ve been criticised, applauded and indeed scolded and heralded.

However, the discussion these mums were having about the article and whether we should have run it as a front cover and indeed if we should have ran the story in detail surprised me.

It was balanced, intelligent and got me thinking about the way we cover highly sensitive stories. The majority of comments were praising us for bringing Riley’s disgusting behaviour to light. As one mum put it ‘If a convicted paedophile lives locally I want to know.’

Some felt the story was too detailed but we had edited out some details too vile to print in a family read magazine. Even those ‘negative’ comments were well argued and I took their points on board.

News magazines are essentially a public information service. And this story was something the public had the right to know about. It’s my opinion it was 100 per cent in the public’s interest to make this our front cover and let them know this happened,

Thankfully this disgusting man was sent to prison for four years. Really it should have been a lot longer sentence I believe.

Thanks for reading.

Nik

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