We hear it in a variety of forms whenever we — newspapers — publish something people don’t want to know or believe.
The plea might be, “How is this news?” It often involves some form of “how can you drag this person’s name through the mud?”
Others go on the offensive: “I’m never subscribing again” or “I’m calling the office in the morning to cancel my subscription.”
Still others suggest we wouldn’t cover a type of story if it happened to us, our families or co-workers — or impugn our integrity or skills in some other fashion.
Believe me, after 30 years in the business, I could tell you a thing or five about how to write an entertaining complaint letter or Internet post.
So, yes, I’ve heard or read all those accusations and more since news broke Thursday that Nelson-House Funeral Homes co-owner Kevin Kregger had been accused of improprieties involving the estate of an elderly widow.
Look, I like Kevin. I’ve known him for a good 15 years, maybe longer. I’d consider him a close acquaintance, if not simply a friend. I’ve probably seen more pictures of him and his grandkids on Facebook than the FDA allows.
Nelson-House has handled virtually every family funeral for the past four decades: My mom, my dad, my grandmother, my grandfather and a number of other relatives passed through their doors on their way to St. Paul Cemetery.
And as difficult as it has been over the years to associate Bob Nelson and Kevin with so much sadness in my life, I still like those guys.
I don’t want these accusations to prove true any more than the dozens of people complaining we covered this.
I’ve lost a number of friends over the years because of things I had to cover. There are people I haven’t spoken with in years because they were unhappy about this or that.
I’ve had to report on two friends in public office who were caught drunk driving, the wife of another friend who embezzled, a one-time co-worker who embezzled and several other cases that were uncomfortable, at least.
I don’t have knowledge of the evidence against Kevin. I have no idea whether the charges will play out as fact or overreach by prosecutors and the state.
I know what I want to believe.
I also know sometimes people make mistakes: sometimes thinking something is OK when it’s not, sometimes taking a few more liberties than the law will allow.
I also know my job, and the mission of this newspaper, is to publish news when it happens. And hope that enough people in this community see a value in having news reported that they pay a small sum of money to obtain that information.
The investigation into Kevin’s case took place over the course of months, probably because officials wanted to dot their I’s and cross their T’s before filing charges against such a well-known figure. That speaks to the care the detectives and prosecutors have exercised in this case.
And whether the charges against Kevin are true isn’t for me or my staff to determine. A well-known person in the community was charged with a crime — even if you consider it a minor crime, that’s news.
No, we don’t cover every alleged crime and we don’t publish every name. For instance, we’re unlikely to publish the arrest of a first-time drunk driver or retail fraud arrest. We could, but frankly there are so many we would fill the paper with such things.
So we choose. Just like we don’t publish every car crash, medical emergency or every kitchen stove fire.
We typically don’t publish the names of juveniles arrested unless they are charged as adults. We typically don’t publish names of those arrested for crimes unless they have been arraigned.
It’s a balancing act every day. But the bottom line is a person in a position of public trust has been charged.
We have to report that and we will, every time.