Prosecutors tell drunk-driver he has to share his story with the local newspaper

- A paragraph from the story.

– A paragraph from the story.

An assistant district attorney tells the defendant he has to share his story with the Sheboygan Press as a part of a plea deal. What if the Press says it’s not interested? I wondered.

“We could have said no,” says reporter Josh Lintereur. “There was no pressure on us.”

Sheboygan Press key audience manager (aka editor) Dan Benson adds: “It was clear there were no ground rules and we weren’t barred from asking any questions and no expectation was laid down as to what kind of story it had to be, although their hopes or intentions were made clear.”

I judged it completely on the news value of it and that there was a public service aspect. It helped that the crash itself was so bizarre and was news when it happened. [John Krizenesky hit a utility pole with his 1966 Corvette, the pole fell and electrocuted a boy.] The only condition was that Krizenesky did not want his photo taken during the interview, but it was understood that we would be shooting stills and video in court.

Benson says he’s never had a prosecutor make this kind of request before, and “my only concern now is that they will want to do it again. If so I’ll have to consider it purely on news value again.”

Both the editor and reporter tell me they’re hearing mixed reactions to today’s page one story. “One woman accused us of making the driver out to be the victim,” says Benson. “Other reactions, which we’d already heard following the sentencing story, was that the sentence was way too lenient [30 days in jail, a fine, and a newspaper story], which is an ongoing complaint about Sheboygan judges.”

* A tragic ending to a casual drink (sheboyganpress.com)
* The boy was catching grasshoppers when he was electrocuted (sheboyganpress.com)
* Today’s Sheboygan Press front page (newseum.org)

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