Monday, May 16, 2011

Who's Your Daddy?

Originally written 2/18/11

Dan McCarney’s daughter arrested for assault on police officer

The Iowa City Press-Citizen and the Cedar Rapids Gazette covered the arrest of a former Iowa State University football coach’s 21-year-old daughter in Iowa City on Saturday, February 14, 2009. Originally arrested for keeping a disorderly house, Jillian Kristina McCarney reportedly swore at, threatened, and tried to kick and strike the peace officer with her shoulder. She was then charged with assaulting a police officer as well.

McCarney reportedly repeated her status of Dan McCarney’s daughter, threatened that her father would take physical action on the officers, and told the officer that her charges would be dropped because as a McCarney she has “a lot of money.”

Both papers did give background information on Dan McCarney, but only the Gazette reported her release on the morning after her arrest. After reading the Press-Citizen I found myself asking many questions about the arrest—questions that were also left unanswered by the Gazette. I want to know more information about both Dan and Jillian McCarney.

Neither newspaper article addressed Jillian McCarney’s intoxication level and temperament, the number of responding officers, her relevance to the news, information about her, the reason behind her release from jail, and her friends’ and family’s responses.

Jillian McCarney reportedly boasted of her father’s status and said some rather bold things to the officers. I want to know if she was drunk at the time of her arrest, and if she was I want to know what her blood alcohol level was. Was she highly intoxicated or was she sober? Her words are even bolder if she was sober.

If I were the reporter for either newspaper, I would have asked the police officers what her state of mind was, if she was irate and disheveled or calm and orderly. Neither article actually gives her temperament. I assume she was angry and intoxicated, since she attempted to strike an officer with her shoulder and kick with her left leg. But I don’t know for sure.
I would have asked the officers how many officers responded to her disorderly house, which officers arrested her, and who called the police on the disorderly house. Was she throwing a party, were there other people there, does she have roommates?

I also want to know why her arrest was worthy of a news story. I understand from both newspapers that her father Dan grew up in Iowa City, played football here and was later an assistant coach, became the head football coach at ISU, and is now the University of Florida’s football defensive line coach and assistant head coach. But what relevance do his Iowa City connections have to her arrest?

I am from Texas and as such, I had no idea who Dan McCarney is. It was helpful that both articles included back matter on McCarney’s career; however, I failed to see Jillian’s importance in the news. Many young adults are arrested in Iowa City during the weekend and are listed in the police blotter.

If Dan McCarney had been arrested, that’s news. If Dan McCarney had commented on Jillian’s arrest using threatening and negative phrases against the officers, that is news. Aside from her father’s career, what makes Jillian’s arrest worthy of its own news story?

According to search results of the University of Iowa website, a Jillian McCarney is listed as running and placing in the 29th River Run at the age of 20. I would find out if she is active at the university or in the community, what her major is, if she has a job and where. I’d like to look up the towns she has lived in, and why she is a student at the UI. If she is very active in volunteering or somehow works to better the community, it is then newsworthy to report on her arrest.

I also would have checked the jail records to see why she was released, as reported by the Gazette. The Press-Citizen reported that assaulting an officer can land the person up to a year in prison as well as fined $1,500. I would have found out if she was fined and if she will be sent back to jail after a trial perhaps.

According to Iowa Courts Online, Jillian McCarney has four cases: her disorderly house, her assault on peace officers and others, a speeding ticket in 2006 for which she was found guilty, and one under the case name of another individual. No other information is stated in these records, but it does report that her assault’s sentence date is “null.”

Dan McCarney doesn’t appear to have any arrest records in Iowa Courts Online, but I’d like to know his stance on drinking and arrests on young people. Did he have a history of working with troubled youth while in Iowa City or elsewhere?

The Press-Citizen reports that they reached Jillian by phone, but she said she had no comment. I would try to contact her roommates if she has them and other people who were around during her arrest. Their information and observations could be important. I would definitely try to contact her parents to find out their reactions to Jillian’s arrest.

I want more information and a longer story. I understand the Gazette’s shorter story; their article was published the day after the arrest. However, the Press-Citizen’s story was published the Monday after; they had one more day to gather information, and they only had two more grafs—one about her grandfather and a sentence that said she had no comment.

Neither article reported enough. Both failed to go beyond brief information. Their inability to dig deeper and report those facts leaves me unsatisfied as a reader, as well as a journalist.

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