January 18, 2013

The Journal News | Associated Press | The New York Times
The suburban New York newspaper’s decision to take down its controversial gun map “is not a concession to critics that no value was served by the posting of the map in the first place,” Publisher Janet Hasson writes in a letter to readers.

On the contrary, we’ve heard from too many grateful community members to consider our decision to post information contained in the public record to have been a mistake. Nor is our decision made because we were intimidated by those who threatened the safety of our staffers. We know our business is a controversial one, and we do not cower.

People have had enough time to view the map and its data will become outdated, Hasson writes.

“Hundreds of threats were made to Journal News staffers,” Hasson writes. (WND reported this week that some people sent hate mail to another newspaper by mistake.)

New York’s state legislature pushed through a new gun law this week that included new rules designed to shield handgun owners from having their names and addresses published, a direct response to The Journal News’ map. The Journal News will “continue to pursue our request for data from Putnam County,” Hasson writes.

The maps, an AP report says, “remained online late Friday but could no longer be manipulated to find names and addresses.”

Via its publicist, The Journal News sends Poynter this statement:

“With the passage this week of the NYSAFE gun law, which allows permit holders to request their names and addresses be removed from the public record, we decided to remove the gun permit data from lohud.com at 5 pm today.

While the new law does not require us to remove the data, we believe that doing so complies with its spirit. For the past four weeks, there has been vigorous debate over our publication of the permit data, which has been viewed nearly 1.2 million times by readers. One of our core missions as a newspaper is to empower our readers with as much information as possible on the critical issues they face, and guns have certainly become a top issue since the massacre in nearby Newtown, Conn. Sharing as much public information as possible provides our readers with the ability to contribute to the discussion, in any way they wish, on how to make their communities safer.

We remain committed to our mission of providing the critical public service of championing free speech and open records.”

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City…
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