The Popcorn Stand: This reporter has trouble taking a side

We just had a spirited discussion in the newsroom concerning the arrest of Carson High baseball coach Bryan Manoukian on suspicion of DUI.

Should we have reported Manoukian’s arrest? I’ve been in journalism for 27 years, have dealt with this exact situation several times and like my favorite sports columnist Red Smith who spawned the idea for the Popcorn Stand I’ve always just wanted to be called a good reporter. So just like Smith in a similar situation once when he called himself a lily white afraid to take a stand, I can see both sides.

I’ve seen this situation handled in every way imaginable. I know of a newspaper who skewered a high school football coach arrested for DUI, plastering a lengthy story on its front page and writing an editorial demanding the coach be fired. I myself wrote that editorial once, stating coaches should be held to at least the same standard — if not a higher standard — than the student-athletes they coach.

And full disclosure, I wrote a draft of an editorial calling for Manoukian’s dismissal. But just like the last time I wrote that editorial, I had mixed feelings. Was I being the muckraking journalist who takes a stand or was I rushing to judgment? I guess that makes me a human being.

Unlike that one newspaper, the Appeal gave just a few graphs to Manoukian’s arrest. But then again I know of newspapers who have virtually ignored DUI arrests of coaches and not reported them at all.

And much like the debate we had in the newsroom, we have had similar views expressed by the public. We have been criticized for reporting Manoukian’s arrest and criticized for not reporting Manoukian’s arrest after it had already been reported by other media.

I know this. When the legal system concerning coach Manoukian runs its course and if the Carson City School District takes any disciplinary action — we’ll eventually report on it.

— Charles Whisnand


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