In response to letter about AHS athletes

Responding to Tim Storch’s July 29 letter, I’ll take a shot at answering his question, “Why were accused listed as former AHS athletes?” To begin, I question the premise of the letter, i.e., “Like many readers of the Alpena News, I’m wondering why the writer focused on the fact that the two accused men were ‘former Alpena High School athletes.'”

I don’t know that Mr. Storch has surveyed readers of The News, or that any of them has expressed wonderment at the lede in an article about arrests for criminal sexual conduct. And, in any case, I’m a reader of The News, and the whole thing seemed so clear to me that I nearly glossed over it. My guess is that the writer led with “former Alpena High School athletes” (rather than, say, “Alpena men”) to provide a more interesting local hook to the story. Further, I don’t think anyone who read the story would say that the writer “sensationalize[d]” the fact that the accused were former AHS athletes, or “impugn[ed]” that fact. It’s mentioned once, in the lede. There is nothing else in the article having anything to do with AHS. There is nothing “sensational” about mentioning the fact the accused played sports there when they were in high school. To address one of Mr. Storch’s more curious points, there is no suggestion, anywhere in the article, that either perpetrator was attending AHS, or was participating in sports there, in July 2016. I agree that the accuseds’ former attendance at AHS, and their having been athletes there, has no bearing on the charges against them. However, I also agree that the use of a hook to get readers into a story, especially, as here, a hook that does not “sensationalize” or “impugn” anything, is pretty standard in journalism, and is benign. Perhaps Mr. Storch needs to read more, different, newspapers.