The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update


May 5, 2013

Scott Underwood: Baer story painful but important

ANDERSON, Ind. — While community-minded journalists take steps, when possible, to minimize unintended hardship for people affected by news articles, newspapers rarely make decisions based on potential collateral damage. Mission No. 1 is to serve readers by providing the news, good or bad.

This philosophy sometimes runs contrary to the approach expected by individual readers or groups of readers, particularly when they have a personal connection to a news story.

At The Herald Bulletin, recent coverage about a convicted murderer aroused such concerns.

We sent a photographer, videographer and reporter up to the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City to interview death-row inmate Fredrick Michael Baer. The trip was planned after we learned that Baer was fully confessing his crimes and that he was on the verge of dropping the appeals process.

The Sunday after our interview with Baer, we published a lengthy article and sidebar with photos and posted a video of the Baer interview on our website. The video, in particular, sparked dozens of Facebook comments, some of which objected to the fact that we had dedicated the video and so much space in print to Baer. I also received three phone calls from readers who were upset that we had, in their opinion, glorified a monster.

Such a reaction, from an emotional standpoint, is understandable. Baer murdered 26-year-old Cory Clark and 4-year-old daughter Jenna at their Lapel area home on Feb. 25, 2004. It was one of the most heinous crimes in local history.

The intent of our coverage was not to generate sympathy for Baer or even to try to make sense of his atrocities (he was also identified in the aftermath of the double murder as a serial rapist). Our aim, rather, was to relate Baer’s state of mind, the state of his appeal, and the fact that he is considering dropping the appeal.

Reporter Jack Molitor, photographer Don Knight and videographer Andy Knight did an excellent job of addressing these aspects of the story, which was presented in a descriptive but straightforward manner. During the interview process, we attempted to contact the victims’ family to alert them that the story was scheduled for publication and also to ask whether they would be willing to sit for an interview. We did not receive a response and, out of respect for the family, did not hound them with additional requests.

Whatever your position is on the death penalty and the Baer case, the article and video provided new information about a topic of great public importance in Madison County. In the end, Baer’s case will cost the state well more than $1 million, and the pain from his horrible crimes continues, nine years later, to burn. We believe that reporting on developments in the Baer case and giving readers new insight is simply practicing good journalism.

While we regret any emotional trauma the Baer coverage might have generated, we must hold true to our mission of serving our readers by telling important news stories — even the painful ones.

Editor Scott Underwood’s column appears Mondays. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @THBEditor. Contact him at or 640-4845.

Text Only
  • OPN - Mootry column mug [Duplicate] [Duplicate] Primus Mootry: There is a poet in each of us April is National Poetry Month. Throughout the country, colleges and universities, elementary and secondary schools, libraries and various publications have hosted poetry readings or featured unpublished poets.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • underwood mug [Duplicate] Scott Underwood: Nightmares from high school proms past I wore a salmon-colored tuxedo with a cummerbund and tails to my senior prom. I was 6-foot-6 and 175 pounds. A beanpole.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hayden, Maureen mug Maureen Hayden: Judge in gay marriage decision no activist

    When U.S. District Judge Richard Young recently ruled in favor of a lesbian couple seeking recognition of their out-of-state marriage, opponents of same-sex unions called him an activist judge who was unilaterally trampling the law. The label didn’t resonate with those who know Young well.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Charo Boyd mug [Duplicate] Charo Boyd: Social Security goes green on Earth Day and every day For years, Social Security has been at the forefront of offering convenient, easy-to-use, and secure online services. We, along with those we serve, have saved a lot of paper, shipping costs, and fuel — and cut back on a lot of carbon exhaust and pollution — by going online instead of doing things the old-fashioned, less efficient way.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tim Kean: Can we have a 'A New State of Mind?' I have recently read some great articles about people coming together to make a difference in the lives of children facing food insecurity. The collective effort of a group can provide some much-needed food to kids who may not have a meal when they return home from school or during the weekend.

    April 19, 2014

  • SPL - PT041014 - Ken de la Bastide column - Ken sig Ken de la Bastide: County may eliminate Data Processing Board

    Action two weeks ago by the Madison County commissioners to close Data Processing Board meetings to the public might run afoul of the Indiana Open Door law, and a local resident is considering filing a complaint with the Public Access Counselor’s office for a determination.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Timmons, Theresa mug Theresa Timmons: Dinosaurs run amok at mamaw's house I love my new job as a grandparent. It includes playing imaginary tennis with imaginary tennis rackets, making elaborate tents in the living room, and hair-pulling.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stringer, Maleah mug Maleah Stringer: Volunteers needed to spend time with shelter animals Shelters can be extremely stressful places for many animals, particularly those who have been in a loving home. This is why we want people to come into the shelter and spend time with our animals — to help keep them adoptable so that when the right person comes along they are ready.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bailey, Jim mug Jim Bailey: Wages were much less back then, but so were prices If you have any questions about what economists mean by inflation, just look at yesterday’s buying power. Those old western movies talked about wages of $1 a day. That wouldn’t even buy a burger at a fast food joint today by the time sales tax is added in.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clark, Big Joe mug [Duplicate] 'Big Joe' Clark: Understanding the risks within fixed income investments Many retirees associate the concept of taking “risk” with the equity markets. However, as 2013 demonstrated, there is also principal risk in the fixed income arena if an untimely liquidation requires you to sell bonds and generate income.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Front page

Do you plan to attend any of the local Little 500 Festival events in May?

What events?
     View Results