Journalism Director Overholser quoted in The Washington Post

School of Journalism Director Geneva OverholserBy Alex Reed
Student Writer

The Washington Post quoted USC Annenberg Journalism Director Geneva Overholser in a story about the harsh reaction of the public to newspapers asking for public records about gun ownership.

In the wake of the December shooting in Newtown, Conn., many newspapers have been reporting on the ownership of guns and gun permits. However, the reactions in some towns have been so adverse that newspapers are receiving death threats over merely requesting documents on gun ownership.

“It’s a reasonable thing to want to own a gun, so I don’t understand the logic that naming [a gun owner] somehow shames or demonizes them,” said Overholser. Instead, she argued, disclosure “could normalize gun ownership” by treating it more conventionally.

One New York newspaper actually ran a story that revealed the names of handgun permit holders in several nearby counties. The paper received so many threats that they had to hire guards outside of their offices.

“I don’t discount the discomfort [of being identified in the newspaper], but if we never printed things that people didn’t want in the paper, the paper would look like Swiss cheese,” said Overholser. “I think we should champion the reasons that it’s worth doing this.”

Read the story
Geneva Overholser

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