Coverage Controversy

In the week since the Torch published its special section featuring coverage of the Feb. 1 shooting at Venlo Place Apartments, a few university employees have contacted us and expressed their displeasure with some of our editorial choices.

The primary complaint was the headline “Shooting at Ferris,” which appeared three times in the first five pages of the newspaper. It was also the special heading on our website where readers were able to find frequent updates during the shooting and subsequent search for the suspect.

So, what exactly are people upset about? In short, logistics.

There are those who believe the Torch was mistaken in saying the shooting was at Ferris due to the fact it technically took place off-campus. However, the editorial staff identified several factors which connected the university to the shooting, thus allowing us to feel comfortable running the headline.

Things we considered as a Torch staff before deciding on the headline include:

First, while the shooting did occur at an off-campus apartment complex, it is an off-campus apartment complex occupied entirely by Ferris students. If it weren’t for the university, the Venlo complex would have never been built. By virtue of its residents, Venlo, which is located less than a mile from campus, is an extension of Ferris itself.

Second, a Ferris student was allegedly shot by the friend of a former Ferris student. That friend came to Ferris with what is believed to be the intention of attending a Ferris event, according to police. To instead run the headline “Shooting in Big Rapids” would have been unfair to the city—let alone Big Rapids Township where Venlo is actually located—when the Ferris theme was so clear.

Third, the suspected shooter fled the crime scene directly on to campus. If it wasn’t already a Ferris shooting, DeCory Demarco Downing made it so when he barricaded himself in Ferris student housing for nearly 19 hours.

Fourth, Ferris Director of DPS Bruce Borkovich led multiple press conferences organized by Ferris News Services Manager Sandy Gholston. All of the related press conferences were held on university property. While the shooting may not have physically occurred at Ferris, no one can deny the Ferris community was the group predominantly affected.

The decision to run the “Shooting at Ferris” headline was not something the Torch did frivolously or in an attempt to sensationalize the events. The editorial board discussed the matter at length and sought input from our adviser.

In the end, the evidence was all there and the decision to run the headline was unanimous. As always though, the Torch appreciates readers sharing their thoughts and opinions whether positive or negative. Please continue to do so.