I was busy during the fuss over the Journal News publishing (and eventually unpublishing) a map of gun permit holders in its coverage area.
Other than a few comments on social media, I didn’t join the discussion. While I thought some criticism was valid, I was troubled by the outcry among journalists. At several points, I wanted to weigh in, but I couldn’t figure out exactly what I wanted to say. So I kept mostly silent and kept my focus on the work I needed to do.
Geneva Overholser (a colleague from our first hitches at the Des Moines Register back in the 1980s) has said what I wanted to say. Whether you agree or disagree with the publication of the gun permit data, you should read Geneva’s Online Journalism Review post Secrecy is trumping public interest in gun control coverage.
From local sheriffs and gun owners intimidating publishers about concealed weapon permits that are and should be public records to an increasingly opaque White House, momentum is shifting away from openness. Journalists and citizens should worry about that shift, however you feel about a particular issue.
We need to make the case for openness better than we have. I’m glad Geneva made the case well, and I’m sorry that I didn’t.