Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

T-U Revealed Too Much in Reporting Bomb-Making

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

T-U Revealed Too Much in Reporting Bomb-Making

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Clark, Times-Union Reader Advocate

When does providing information become irresponsible journalism?

The Times-Union recently reported how a pipe bomb worked, including one feature that made it even more deadly. This was part of the testimony in a murder and arson trial.

Publishing the pipe bomb details outraged Rusty Adshade, administrator of the Foundation Academy.

"It is bad enough that our students have to hear about school shootings and suicide bombers," he said. "These events reflect the challenges in society that we must prepare our young people for. Giving them the directions for building a bomb prepares them for something far worse than Columbine."

Managing Editor Michael Richey responded: "We reported on the testimony of an explosives expert called by the prosecutors. The testimony showed how a similar bomb would be ignited and it provided insight into construction techniques that would bring extensive damage. The information was relevant to the trial and to the story. I think it would be difficult to build a bomb based on the information given, yet more specific information is readily available on the Internet, in libraries and probably in some college textbooks for anyone interested. In all likelihood, anyone considering building an explosive device would go to one of those sources and not two paragraphs of testimony from their local newspaper."

Could someone use the details from the Times-Union news story to make a pipe bomb more deadly? The answer is yes, said Bill King, chief public affairs officer for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. By the way, King was a 1970 graduate of Terry Parker High School in Jacksonville and Florida State University.

"Do you want to be party to enhancing the deadliness of a pipe bomb?" King said, "though we both know this information can be obtained elsewhere. …

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