Branson is a community largely outnumbered by guests (Several Million Tourists Vs. A Few Thousand Residents). These guests are as likely to read the paper as the local residents and the editor's of these publications are aware of who their audience is and what they may want to read.
In terms of raw numbers the demand for say, an article about Shoji Tabuchi's new installation of a "solid gold toilet seat cover" exceeds demand for "Johnny Local gets arrested for public drunkenness."
The problem is that the failure of the press to make this type of information publicly accessible often creates suspicion and the rumor mill gets flowing. It's been suggested that the Taney County Times may begin delivering county wide arrest report records in the future; however, this type of information currently isn't being covered.
Certain types of crime, if it has the potential of being high profile, results in a press release from the Branson Police Department. Why doesn't every crime occurring in Branson result in a press release? Police Chief McCullough says, "If I sent a Press Release every time an incident occurred, it would be my full time job."
The question is who's job is it?
I figured since no one applied for the position that I would take it on.
After filling out the appropriate documents I received a list of criminal activity reported at the Branson Landing. The total number of incidents reported tallied 72 since the Branson Landing became Branson's largest, most publicized and most subsidized shopping attraction. The majority of crimes are petty thefts ...shoplifting at a department store a few peace disturbances at a bar, one random dog on the loose - one possession of a "brain modification device" and a rumored assault with a BB Gun. It is my intention to post the list next week. What about the horror stories of rape and murder (maybe this rumor hasn't spread too far yet) or the violent gangs of Springfield raining terror on the innocent shoppers in our quiet town? Not only are they unconfirmed but after exploration...found to be untrue. KY3 made a trip down to the Branson Landing after filing a request nearly two weeks ago confirming the falsity of rape allegations occurring at the Landing. Greg Brock, news reporter for the local radio station took it an extra step citing the legal obligation of the hospital to report certain types of incidents stating,
"When a person does go to a hospital to be checked out with a rape kit... that hospital, Skaggs for exampled is obligated by law to contact police... the city says that has not happened."
Several months ago I conducted detailed first hand research on the Branson Landing security. The private company that handles security for the Landing provides a fascinating story in itself. They're often hired by government agencies for community revitalization projects. These contracts involve going into urban areas where criminal elements dominate the landscape and cleaning them up for a return to prosperity. Landing Security is far more likely to complain of boredom then crime sprees. Still, it's a shopping establishment prone to the type of activities that occur at any establishment. As policy, the Branson Landing security will provide a chaperone to any employee wanting an escort to their vehicle.
One of the great things about America is the government's obligation of accountability to the public. The press has an obligation as well. It is our sacred duty to be accountable - to be a custodian of fact and to report the truth whether or not it suits our selfish purposes. We all have prejudices and preconceived notions - it takes a constant effort to check ourselves and put our own interests to the side to ensure we're fulfilling our public duty. This is a shield of virtue as we wield a sword of truth.
We've done our due diligence and confirm that to date the rumors of rape at the Branson Landing are in fact untrue. In addition we issue a $1,000 reward for evidence of such an incident reported and not released by the agencies questioned.