Report on College Park student veers off course

March 18, 2012

Perhaps the editors of The Sun can explain why a story about a stressed-out student at the University of Maryland includes not only where his parents live but also what they paid for their house and its current assessed value ("UM student charged in threat was 'stressed out,'" March 13).

The front page story about 19-year-old Alexander G. Song, who is alleged to have threatened a shooting rampage on campus, first seems to steer off course by reporting that the accused does not have an adult criminal record but notes that he did receive a traffic ticket for failure to stop at a sign and received a $90 fine. From there the story jumps to how when Mr. Song was 12 he was hit by a car while on a skateboard and his father sued the owner and recovered $39,400. After that, the authors thought it was important to report the details about the parents' house. We get the size of the house, its location, its 1999 purchase price and its current assessed value. We also learn that the house is two miles from the high school the young man attended.

Is there some minimum word count for a lead article in the Sun that explains why this information was thought to be relevant to the story or, more importantly, appropriate? Am I missing something about how this information might tie into a threatened shooting rampage? The writers certainly did not develop their point, if any. Personally, I believe that the writers and editors went too far by including that personal information.

Steve Gevarter, Catonsville

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