Story, not the source, was the key

On Thursday, I wrote a front-page story about a problem surrounding outdated milk in a vending machine at Kingman Middle School.

Kevin Jay, the resident who brought it to my attention, expressed concern for children, especially his nephew who likes milk and is afflicted with Angelman Syndrome. The youth trusts that the product he is getting from a machine is safe, and he does not recognize the dangers in package labeling that most of us do.

A woman called me Friday to say we embarrassed ourselves by running the story. She said we put down good people at the school and she questioned the reputation of the source. She also questioned whether the nephew is able to get anything out of a vending machine due to his condition.

I had never met Jay before Thursday nor do I have an ear tuned in on community gossip.

I called school Principal Jerry Arave and he responded to my questions about the matter. His account of how many outdated bottles of milk were in the machine differed from that of Jay, but I presented both sides of the case to allow readers to judge for themselves the seriousness of the situation.

It was fair and balanced reporting, which is what I strive for.

I don't know if Jay's nephew is able to get products out of vending machines or not. That is irrelevant. Other children at the school can do so, and outdated products can be hazardous to one's health.

The milk vendor was told to come and pick up his machine. The only milk that will now be available for purchase on the campus is what is sold in the school's cafeteria.

People coming to us with a complaint should not expect us to print a story unless they are willing to have their names appear in print. In turn, law enforcement personnel read the stories, so if someone has an outstanding warrant or some other legal problem, he or she is attracting attention.

Our legal system hands out punishment to those convicted of wrongdoing. Once they have served their sentences, they have an opportunity to get on with their lives with the same rights and privileges as someone that has never been in trouble with the law.

We do not have the ability to run background checks on the people with whom we come into contact. Heaven only knows if we had to do so before proceeding with an article it would be days or perhaps weeks before any story could go to print.

To anyone unhappy about the story, I say too bad. I am concerned with public health issues and this matter clearly was a health safety issue.

You should be concerned too over something that had been ongoing for an unknown period of time.

Perhaps it will serve as a wake-up call to vendors to ensure they have fresh products in their machines at all times. I hope it also will spur school administrators to keep closer watch not only on what is sold in vending machines but for the product's expiration date.