Sunday, August 28, 2016

Critiquing the Reporting of Possible Charges for Sheriff Joe Arpaio

According to a recent CNN article by reporter Kimberly Hutcherson, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio could be facing criminal charges. These charges would be for criminal contempt for failing to abide by instructions from Federal Judge G. Murray Snow regarding a racial profiling case.

The article by Kimberly Hutcherson is laid out in several sections. I like how this allows the reader to clearly identify the various issues covered in her article. Hutcherson covers Arpaio’s history with the courts, how the plaintiffs and Latino community feel, how Arpaio’s notoriety could work against him and a recap of the allegations of discrimination that led up to the current events. While Hutcherson covers the salient points of Sheriff Arpaio’s current situation, I feel that the order in which the information is presented, from the present backwards to their origins, leaves the article unresolved and the reader unsatisfied. To alleviate this, I would have put the sections of the article in an order that moved the reader forward from the history of the situation to its current state. Additionally, while I personally feel that Sheriff Arpaio and his office have committed the alleged offences, I would like to have had more detailed information on his position. This would have balanced the article and made it feel less biased.

There is a related podcast by NPR’s Jude Joffe-Block that helps to expand on the understanding of the situation facing Sheriff Arpaio. In the podcast, we get to hear about the case from some of those personally involved. These include Judge Murray Snow, Sheriff Arpaio’s lawyer Mel MacDonald, Latino community activists Lydia Guzman and Alfredo Gutierrez. Also, David Harris, a law professor, explains that while bringing civil contempt charges against an elected official is rare, it shows the level of frustration felt by Judge Snow about Arpaio’s continuing disregard for the court’s instructions. While being not only informative, the podcast also helps bring a sense of immediacy to the situation that the written article lacks.

Both the article and the podcast present Sheriff Arpaio current position in clear and informative ways. They certainly stress the importance of the upcoming events in this ongoing situation. 

Links to the article and podcast: