Washington Examiner Gets Great Response

Now this is Direct Response! Article from the New York times, joke courtesy of Jim Jinks:

Washington Examiner Helps Capture Fugitives

The Washington Examiner is known around
the nation’s capital for its conservative bent, bite-size news reports
and price that cannot be beat: it is given away on the Metro.

But in law enforcement circles, The Examiner has also become a
valuable crime-fighting tool, one that investigators turn to when their
detective work has hit a wall.

The results have been remarkable.

About once a month, the United States Marshals Service in the
Washington area apprehends a fugitive caught with the help of Examiner
readers. So far, marshals have rounded up 24 suspects after receiving
calls from people who read about a fugitive in the paper.

The captures are the result of a weekly item in The Examiner called
“Most Wanted,” which has featured a fugitive for the last two and a half
years. Readers are provided a number to call if they think they have
any information about the case. More often than not, they do.

The marshals said that even when “Most Wanted” articles did not lead
directly to a capture, they could yield a tip that in some way helped an
investigation — like an old address where the fugitive had been hiding
out.

Calls can trickle in long after the article was published, as anxious
associates or relatives of fugitives decide to act on guilty feelings.

“Either it’s been eating away at them or they finally got the courage
to give us the information,” said Robert Fernandez, commander of the
Marshals’ Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force. “They may be
friends with the individual, and they had a falling out. Or they’ve been
in a relationship and then they broke up.”

Sometimes fugitives will see themselves in the paper and decide to
give themselves up. “They panic,” Mr. Fernandez said. “That flushes them
out of their hiding places.”

The kinds of criminals caught by the authorities are often the worst
of the worst: rapists, child molesters, drug dealers and killers. And
sometimes the confrontation with citizens can be dramatic.

Andre Stevenson, who had been convicted of a sexual offense involving
a 15-year-old and had failed to register with the authorities, was
spotted loitering outside a Southeast Washington school by an Examiner
reader. A group of people surrounded Mr. Stevenson and held him there
until the police arrived.

The “Most Wanted” column is a feature in The Examiner’s Crime and
Punishment section, which provides often-colorful coverage of crime and
justice in the Washington area.

The lead writer, Scott McCabe, has become the capital’s version of
John Walsh, host of the long-running television series “America’s Most
Wanted.”

“It’s kind of validating for us as reporters,” Mr. McCabe said. “A
lot of times you write stories, you put a lot of work into them. They’re
hard hitting, you thought. And the only response you hear is the sound
of crickets. You wonder: Is anyone listening? Does anyone care?”

The response to “Most Wanted,” Mr. McCabe said, shows that his readers do care.

The paper is certainly not shy about drawing a little attention to
its success. “Looks like The Examiner provided just the nudge needed to
get him in,” said a recent article about a reader tip leading to the
capture of a man with a record of assault with a deadly weapon, cocaine
distribution and domestic violence.

Given the paper’s conservative tone, might the high rate of success
with reader tips say something about a certain lust for justice among
right-leaning Examiner readers?

The editor, Stephen G. Smith, said he thought not, saying that many
of the captures take place in poor neighborhoods that are not heavily
Republican.

“It would be nice to think our conservative readers are these nice
upstanding, law-abiding citizens, but I don’t think that’s why the
Marshals Service is getting all these phone calls,” Mr. Smith said.

“The people who get turned in are in really pretty tough
neighborhoods,” he said. “You wouldn’t think that the folks who are
reading our editorials are living where these folks are.”

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