Dear Members and Advocates,
This week’s update is directed at television station WJXT and their news show News4Jax (@wjxt4)… Shame on you!
The backstory: A few days ago, two children went missing in Jacksonville, Florida. Yesterday, before those children were (most importantly) found safe, News4Jax aired a story they titled “30 sex offenders, predators in 2-mile radius of mobile home park where 2 children last seen” in which their “crime and safety expert” Ken Jefferson said, “Statistics have shown over 90% of sexual predators and offenders will reoffend.” This statement is patently false!
After we posted about the story and offered a study from the US Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics (which is one of many) debunking their “crime and safety expert’s” claim, they removed that statement from their website. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done! The story, including the false statistic, had already aired.
News4Jax, what is wrong with you? The community relies on you to broadcast news. You are supposed to give facts. You have an ethical and professional duty of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness, and public accountability. You were completely derelict in your duty. The fact that you implied the children’s disappearance had something to do with the 30 people is unjust, the fact that you referred to them as “suspects” is inflammatory, and the broadcast of a blatantly false re-offense statistic is disgusting!
Thankfully and unsurprisingly, the children were found safe. Their disappearance was not an abduction and had absolutely nothing to do with the 30 individuals you incriminated. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, less than 1% of missing children are the result of nonfamily abductions. So, to call the 30 individuals “the usual suspects” is also blatantly false and disgusting. You owe these 30 people an apology! You unnecessarily compromised them and the more than seventy-thousand people who are publicly listed on Florida’s sex offender registry who are already targets of vigilantism.
And stop calling these persons “sex offenders”! Yes, they are people who are required to register as sex offenders, but forever calling them ‘sex offenders’ implies that is what they do – that they go out and sexually offend. They don’t. Many of these people committed a single, non-violent, non-contact offense decades ago, so why continue to label them? Guess what, News4Jax? Your “crime and safety expert” Ken Jefferson was held in contempt of court for failing to pay child support in 2002! When you feature him on your station, why don’t you refer to him as “crime and safety expert and deadbeat dad, Ken Jefferson”?
News4Jax, now that the children were found and we know it had nothing to do with anyone on the registry and now that it’s been brought to your attention that you broadcast an unquestionably false statistic, it’s time to fix your mistake. You have a duty of public accountability and we intend to hold you to it. Broadcast a retraction and run a follow-up featuring an actual expert (we will be glad to refer you to several) to discuss the facts vs. myths of persons on the registry. If you don’t correct your mistake, the Jacksonville community needs to be skeptical of everything that is reported by you.
Finally, directing the update back towards our membership (of more than 2000 individuals), thank you for reaching out to this station and others who engage in yellow journalism and calling them out on their bs!
The Florida Action Committee
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JANUARY MEMBER CALL will be on Thursday January 9th. Speaker Gail Colletta. Topic 2019 Accomplishments and our Goals for 2020.
Mon Jan 27, 2020 – Central Broward County – 6-9pm. Community Event “A Courageous Conversation on Sexual Offense Issues”. Includes a public viewing of “Untouchable” documentary followed by a discussion of expert panelists. Watch for details.
For more information about these events, or to RSVP email [email protected] or call 904-452-8322. No children please.
SOME HEADLINES FROM THE WEEK
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