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Newspaper blasted for listing schools without security

By Lateef Mungin and Carma Hassan, CNN
updated 2:56 AM EDT, Sat March 30, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The newspaper quickly pulls map
  • It showed schools that the paper said did not have security officers
  • Expert calls the map a "lapse of good judgment"

(CNN) -- An Iowa newspaper caught some flak this week for posting a map of area schools that did and did not have campus security officers.

The Des Moines Register newspaper said it was trying to shed a light on school safety when it published the article online Wednesday.

But after criticism, the article was taken down after 30 minutes, according to Rick Green, the newspaper's vice president.

Children in Newtown, Connecticut, return to school on December 18, 2012, four days after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Adam Lanza opened fire in the school, killing 20 children and six adults before killing himself. Police say he also shot and killed his mother in her Newtown home. Children in Newtown, Connecticut, return to school on December 18, 2012, four days after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Adam Lanza opened fire in the school, killing 20 children and six adults before killing himself. Police say he also shot and killed his mother in her Newtown home.
Newtown school shooting
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Photos: Newtown school shooting Photos: Newtown school shooting

"The horrific Sandy Hook tragedy has forced all of us in the media, including the Register, to be even more thoughtful about how we approach our reporting and presentation on matters related to guns, crime, schools and student safety," Green said. "We must responsibly balance the important role we play in illuminating taxpayers and the public about school spending and security while also doing absolutely nothing that jeopardizes the safety of students and teachers. My staff knows that."

The story had an interactive map that showed which schools were staffed with resource officers, Green said.

But the article made an error when it did not list that some school districts that do not have resource officers "still have some local public safety presence at various times in the form of county sheriff deputies or police officers," he said.

Charles Segars, a safety and security expert, said printing the map was a "lapse of good judgment."

"It is difficult to understand why the Des Moines Register would publish an interactive map that identifies names and locations of schools in which our children are most vulnerable to potential attack," Segars said.

However, Green contradicted his assertion, saying the map did not list the names or addresses of the schools.

Green said his paper got angry phone calls but they listened to the criticism.

"When criticism was raised from readers, we listened and responded," Green said.

This is not the first newspaper to stir up criticism while reporting about gun issues.

In January, a New York newspaper removed an interactive map from its website following a public outcry over the revealing of names and addresses of handgun permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties.

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