I am disgusted and dismayed by the Ravalli Republic’s recent attempts to disparage the name and reputation of Harris Himes. I finally had enough when the fifth front page article in six weeks came out about him. The paper in my opinion is committing open detraction of Harris Himes. Detraction in a word is to smear. Webster defines it as: a lessening of reputation or esteem especially by envious, malicious, or petty criticism.
I will make three points defending my belief that the Republic is trying to smear Himes. I leave it up to the reader to decide if our local paper is fair to him or not. First, after researching the Ravalli Republic’s archives, searching for similar instances of Ravalli County residents being charged with similar “white collar” crimes, I found a common thread of journalism: First, an article is written outlining the allegations; What, who, how, when, and maybe why, if they know. Then the next article is about how the individual pleas, again the charges, and a recap of the who, how, when, why. An article might surface about the person’s bail being set, and date they are to appear again in court. Next, reporting is done on the court hearing and conviction, and finally an article on the sentencing and how that is to be carried out.
Himes’s case is at step one and already more articles have been published about him than all the other singular similar cases that the Republic has reported on in the last five years. During this time, the most reporting that has been done was four articles, that is start to finish (allegations to sentencing) on any one similar case! The number of articles about this case is certainly noteworthy, but take a look at the content. Previously I mentioned that the reporting on other similar cases included the what, who, how, when and why of the charge(s). With Himes it is who, how, when and why of the person.
For example the Republic sees it important that we know when and how he signs on his ham radio, an out of state rally he attended and when
he will be gone to a reunion. Furthermore, personal details are printed about the man who posted Himes’ bail including his family size and where he is living. These are not details included in any of the other cases.
The personal attacks continue: The reporter in the Sept. 29th article titled, “Wanted man turns himself in to police” (bear in mind that when this front page headline “Wanted man…” came out Himes had reported to the police in less than 24 hours) alleges that he, “brandishes the title to some, ‘attorney’ (the same article states, “he is licensed to practice law in California”) and then to others, ‘pastor’, in an effort to do I’m not sure what, because in the most recent article, the same reporter describes him as a pastor in the first sentence!
Point number two: There is another man alleged with the very same charges as Himes. You probably don’t even know his name. In the last three articles his name is only tacked on after Himes’s when the reporter is recapping the charges. We don’t know his ham radio status. Has his bail been posted? And if so, by whom and how big is family of the one who bailed him out?
Last point: One might think, “Well, Himes is a public person; that’s why it’s important we know all these details.” I would propose to you that it is because of his public life that the Ravalli Republic’s reporting is so detractive. The paper is doing a grave injustice to a man who deserves the same treatment as the others who have been charged similarly. If the journalists at the Ravalli Republic would like to express their opinions about a local man or woman and about that person’s public life and views, they have recourse to the opinion page just like you or I do. Let’s hold our local press accountable. It’s their job to report the details we need to know, not what they think we need to know.