For the second time in months, a newspaper owned by Gannet Company, Inc. has published a very controversial map.
In December, the Journal News, owned by Gannet, published a map of every resident from three New York counties whom legally owns a pistol. The map drew widespread criticism, and many claimed it did nothing but give unwanted press to law-abiding gun owners.
The Des Moines Register, also owned by Gannet, published a map on Wednesday that has elicited a similar reaction from readers.
As part of a story on school security, the Register published an interactive map showing what levels of security personnel are or aren’t present at over 100 Iowa public schools.
The story revealed that only 54 out of 348 public school districts in the state have a police officer or armed security guard present at schools throughout the week. Many readers were angered by the map, claiming that it gives potential criminals an easy list of target schools that don’t have security. The Register has taken down the map as a result of high levels of complaints.
Upset readers voiced their displeasure with the map in the comments section of the story.
“Posting where all of your WEAKNESSes are and pointing them out to violent people is IRRESPONSIBLE and should be held ACCOUNTABLE!!! This is not "freedom of the press", this is compromising the safety of our CHILDREN!!! Whether there is security at the school or not, it shouldn't be posted on BILLBOARDS for "all" to see,” one commenter said.
Other readers resonated with these sentiments, saying they were “disgusted” and that the map put “children’s lives at risk.” Another reader called the map “UNBELIEVABLE” and warned that the Register would have blood on its hands if a school crime occurred as a result of information made public from the map.
An editor from the Register responded to the large group of displeased and concerned readers.
“All of us in the media have to be incredibly thoughtful and even more vigilant about balancing the need to report with how folks can perceive our work in the light of what happened at Sandy Hook,” the editor said. “I’ll tell you, nothing is more important to me than protecting the students, school teachers and administrators and safeguarding a community against any kind of violence.”
The editor added that the map is currently being edited, and said a revised map will be put back up on the Register’s website shortly.