Before I moved back to our little coastal oasis of Delaware in 2003, I was the editor of two weekly newspapers in the Atlanta area — the Rockdale Neighbor and the DeKalb Neighbor.
The Rockdale paper was in a more rural region outside of town, and that coverage area was really defined by two points of interest: (1) it was where the equestrian events were held during the 1996 Olympics, and, (2) it was the hometown of actress Dakota Fanning.
And, well, that was about it. That’s not saying anything disparaging about Rockdale County. I actually enjoyed that area, and the downtown section of Conyers, Ga., was a quaint little town with cool shops and restaurants. It was a tight-knit community, and people really exhibited a lot of pride in their towns and county.
The other paper, on the other hand, was a beast. DeKalb County contains part of Atlanta, and the city of Decatur was a bustling town with a lot going on, both in regards to entertainment and hard news.
When I first got down there the staff was dealing with the aftermath of a particularly ugly situation where Sidney Dorsey, the former DeKalb County sheriff, was accused of murdering Derwin Brown, the man who had won the sheriff’s seat in an election and was just a few days away from taking office. Dorsey was eventually sentenced to life in prison for his alleged involvement in the murder, and also picked up convictions on 11 charges of corruption along the way.
It was a difficult area to cover. Atlanta was a living, breathing organism that seemed to double in population by the day, and infrastructure restrictions caused it to be in a near-constant stranglehold of traffic congestion. Michael Vick was the hottest thing on the local sports scene, the school system was in a state of flux and there were constant whispers of improprieties amongst elected leaders in politics, law enforcement and education.
While it was an interesting area to cover, I can assure you that it also came with a lot of headaches for the area’s newspaper editors.
I was reminded again about covering that area when I was scanning news headlines online the other day. My eyes went immediately to a story on the cnn.com wire that was headlined “CDC official accused of child molestation, bestiality.”
Like you wouldn’t have clicked on that, too.
Now, part of the reason I chose that headline was the fact that it was regarding an official from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I knew that it was in DeKalb County from covering that area in the past, so I was naturally curious. Of course, I also tend to click on anything that has “bestiality” in the headline, as well. I mean, come on. You don’t find yourself at least a little interested ...
But I digress.
The details in the story were quite fuzzy, as one would suspect regarding a criminal complaint against a government employee. But what is available is sad.
Dr. Kimberly Quinlan Lindsey is the deputy director for the Laboratory Science Policy and Practice Program Office at the CDC. She and her boyfriend, Thomas Westerman, have been charged with two counts of child molestation involving a 6-year-old, according to information obtained by CNN. Lindsey was also charged with one count of bestiality, and there was no further information than that in the article.
At first glance, I was a little frustrated that I wasn’t there to cover that story. However, after reading a few paragraphs, I was happy that I wasn’t. See, as journalists, we always want that big, juicy story. However, once it happens, the stories often cause more headaches than handstands. Take this story, for instance.
It’s juicy. No doubt about it. Big official at CDC involved in sex case. But there are real-life people involved, and that’s who the reporters will be dealing with as this story progresses. There will be loved ones of Lindsey who are affected. There are officials at CDC who have to discuss their co-workers. And there is a 6-year-old child in the mix.
Yeah, they can keep that story. We’ll stick with the Ocean View nonsense and dune controversies, thank you very much.