Update | By Trisha Marczak
The Journal News, citing threats made against its employees, hired armed security guards Dec. 28 through Jan. 2, according to a report by the Rockland County Times. Editor Caryn A. McBride indicated the measures were taken because of an outpouring of negative comments and threats by readers.
The measure comes after a blog, hosted by Christopher Fountain, published photos of McBride and her family, along with photos of the publisher’s home, including its interior.
While the paper was set to publish another map of the third county in its coverage area, complete with names and addresses of permit holders, Putnam County has indicated it will not hand the information over. The information, which is of public record, was requested by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act.
New York State Sen. Greg Ball said he will introduce legislation that would reverse the law which makes the information public.
(MintPress) – A New York newspaper and its staff members are steeped in a controversy with gun rights advocates after publishing an interactive map depicting the location, name and address of every handgun owner in their readership area.
The map sparked outrage among those whose personal details were listed, prompting blogger Christopher Fountain to publish personal information of every newspaper employee, including interior photos of the publisher’s house and images of the editor’s children. His list also included Facebook and Twitter accounts of those who are not part of the editorial board.
A story published in the Journal indicated that newspaper staff had been threatened following the map’s release.
Despite acknowledging overwhelmingly negative comments regarding the map, the Journal-News is standing by its actions, claiming it did nothing outside of the law, as information regarding handgun owners is registered with the state and is of public record. All information presented through the map and article was released following Freedom of Information requests.
Neither Fountain nor the newspaper’s editorial department returned calls to MintPress.
The article and map were published in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. massacre and include Westchester and Rockland counties. The maps, depicted through Google Maps, use red dots to symbolize households where handgun permits live — when hovered over, the name and address of the permit holder appears on the screen.
Revenge through family photos?
The tone of Fountain’s post on his blog, For What It’s Worth, on the matter is clearly one of revenge, attempting to give newspaper employees a taste of their own medicine, so to speak. A post on the site regarding the the Journal-News map includes the headline: “Keep up the heat — and look what’s got the home address of Cyndee Royle, editor of the Journal-News?”
Providing information to contact the newspaper’s editorial board could be useful for readers — and those identified on the map — looking to express their disapproval. Yet there’s a question over whether posting images of the editor’s family and the rooms of the publisher’s home goes beyond pure revenge. What do children and living rooms have to do with it?
“Miss Royle’s married name is Lambert. She lives in White Plains and here is her Facebook page complete with pictures of her and her kids,” Fountain writes. “Hello Sanctimony.”
Royle has since taken her Facebook page down. However, another link is provided by Fountain that includes a screenshot of her Facebook homepage, complete with a large photo of her and her family, children included. Fountain also goes on to state that Royle drives a red convertible, complete with a photo of it.
The publisher, Janet Hasson, was also targeted, along with a link to a post on the site, InstaPundit, accompanied by Fountain’s message: “Hundreds of thousands of readers; Janet, you have a great Christmas Eve.”
A story published in the Journal-News indicates newspaper employees have received threats for publishing the article and map.
According to his website, Fountain is a former lawyer and author of “The New Millionaire’s Handbook,” described on Amazon as a “tongue-in-cheek manual designed to illuminate the mysterious rites of passage that determine entry into the elite world of the jet set.”
Journal-News fields complaints, defends story as service
So, was the goal of the newspaper to highlight gun owners as negative members of the community? Not exactly, but those listed are concerned they could now be targets of those who oppose them, just as newspaper employees are concerned that the release of family photos could make them targets of retaliation. The only difference is that gun owners are concerned about burglars — newspaper employees are concerned about everyone, mainly gun right advocates.
One Second Amendment advocate told the Journal-News that putting his name on a map as they did was Orwellian, claiming that they were treating gun owners like sex offenders.
“It’s, in my mind, crazy,” he said.
The title of the Journal-News article sums up the intent of the newspaper’s article: “The gun owner next door: What you don’t know about the weapons in your neighborhood.”
The story, written by Dwight R. Worley, starts with an interview of a homeowner of Katonah, described as a quiet New York community. Residents were shocked there when Richard V. Wilson, also a resident, stabbed and shot a woman in May.
The interviewee claims he or she would like to have known that their neighbor was a permit-carrying handgun owner.
“I think that the access to guns in this country is ridiculous, that anybody can get one,” the unidentified neighbor told Worley. “Would I have bought this house knowing somebody (close by) had an arsenal of weapons? No, I would not have.”
While not specifically taking an anti-gun tone, the article explores the controversy surrounding gun ownership and control following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, while also addressing whether community members have a right to know which neighbors have weapons in their homes.
Westchester County, an area within the newspaper’s readership that was highlighted on the map, canceled a gun show following the Newtown shooting, according to the newspaper. Mayors from three towns within the readership area included their names on a letter supporting federal bans on assault weapons.
The readership area, like every other corner of the U.S., had been impacted by the Newtown shooting, reigniting a debate over whether communities are safer or less safe when saturated with guns.
The article did not attempt to prove that too many guns equated more violence. As noted in a New York Times blog post by J. David Goodman, the initial story included an editors note informing readers that Worley, the author of the story, was a permit-carrying handgun owner. The editor’s note was not seen on the online version of the story.
Worley’s address, which has been widely spread by conservative bloggers since the article published, indicates he lives in Springfield, NY., which is in Otsego County, an area not included in the interactive map.
In a follow-up to the controversy over the first article, a second one was published, in which publisher Hasson said, “New York residents have the right to own guns with a permit and they also have a right to access public information.”
The story goes on to state that controversy over the map was expected.