Tuesday, January 25, 2022 Jan 25, 2022
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DIANE, THE PARK, AND OTHER THINGS

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media When City Council member Diane Ragsdale was cited for loitering in an Arlington park after the midnight curfew on January 29 fa Class C misdemeanor, $60 fine), local news outlets had a decision to make. Both Dallas papers declined to go with the Ragsdale story. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram and KRLD radio, however, made a different call.

“Council woman from Dallas says tickets too harsh,” read the Star-Telegram’s headline. BRYAN BRIGGS-FRENCH, city editor of the paper’s Arlington bureau, says the paper generally doesn’t run stories on such minor offenses, but the fact that a prominent public official was involved made it news.

bob mong, assistant managing editor at The News, says his paper doesn’t report on Class C misdemeanors unless there are “extraordinary extenuating circumstances.” Since there weren’t, Mong says, the story was junked when press time came.

The Times Herald made the same basic decision. “Although she is a public official,” says editor roy bode, her offense was “equivalent to a traffic violation, and it would be unusual to run a story on that.”

KRLD decided differently. At first, the station was going to give the matter a one-breath mention, says news manager rick ericson. But when a reporter called Ragsdale to verify, she lambasted the Arlington police officer, saying he should have been more lenient with an out-of-towner ignorant of the curfew. “The fact that she was criticizing a police officer in another city made the story,” says Ericson.