More irresponsible “roofie” reporting in The Union

The Union has become a locals’ version of the National Enquirer, reporting that “dozens of locals say they’ve been ‘roofied’ at Nevada County bars.”

Yet its reporting does not back up the claims except for quoting people anonymously who “suspect” they’ve been slipped a spiked drink “in a variety of establishments in Grass Valley and Nevada City.” (There is no mention of the bar scene in Truckee, also located in “Nevada County.”)

The Union cannot cite a single example of a toxicology report confirming this supposedly “rampant” trend. It also cannot cite a single example of a video capturing someone spiking a drink. And the police said they have received only a “handful” of reports of people being roofied.

The Union also does not examine that many bars have video cameras that could identify any would-be perpetrators. Those videos are examined regularly.

To be sure, it’s an important issue. But the reporting is incomplete. The Union needs to “dig deeper.”

It’s astounding that an editor would let such shallow reporting pass for a front-page article. It is totally irresponsible. And podunk.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

2 thoughts on “More irresponsible “roofie” reporting in The Union”

  1. I laughed out loud when I read George (“I worked at the San Mateo Times'”) Boardman’s defense of this kind of shallow reporting — now in a second “roofie” story:
    He writes: “When is there enough ‘information’ to write about an alleged crime? Stories routinely appear in the news media about people being arrested before they are formally charged and long before they go to trial. And what about Harvey Weinstein and Roy Moore? All we have to go on is what their alleged victims are saying. Stories are even written about crimes–like bank robberies–before anybody is arrested and charged with the crime.”
    This is the most asinine defense I’ve ever read:
    1. No one was even arrested in these alleged “roofie” instances, much less charged or sent to trial. The reporting merely relies on a “suspected” crime, or hearsay. There is no proof that the drinks were spiked; just speculation. The Union needs to “dig deeper.”
    2. As for Harvey Weinstein and Roy Moore, allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior are easier to identify by the victim than whether a drink was spiked or not.
    3. In the case of a bank robbery, the robbers are seen on a video surveillance camera. There is no video “proof” in any of these “roofie” cases.

    In short, these claims need to be corroborated with a video or toxicology test before you can claim this is a “rampant” local trend. Yet there is not even one such instance cited.
    That’s irresponsible reporting. Meanwhile, this could scare off people from patronizing these businesses — without any good reason. The Union should have waited until it had more information. It jumped the gun — twice.

    1. Word on the street this afternoon is that a lot of local restaurants and bars are furious at this “rampant roofie” article because it is based on hearsay without any corroboration. Good going The Union!

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