Nathan Comp, writing in yesterday's edition of Isthmus, broke a story wherein new details about the disappearance of Amos Mortier were brought to light. A freelance writer who recently moved from Madison to Philadelphia, Comp got his hands on grand jury testimony related to the case and decided that some of the facts revealed therein didn't quite mesh with the official story given by law enforcement. It basically states that a suspect allegedly admitted to killing Mortier, but that Fitchburg police never really followed up on that lead.
It's compelling stuff. And though it's hard for any of us to yet say exactly what the truth of the story is, these new details do beg to be more thoroughly investigated.
What's really interesting about all of this to me, though, is the skepticism with which a Wisconsin State Journal reporter, Ed Treleven, wrote about Comp's article - and, too, the fact that all of this is based around a marijuana ring. I still have a hard time believing that, in this day and age, we still so demonize that particular plant*.
Comp has since posted an open letter in response to the WSJ article, and I suspect won't be letting the overall issue drop until the truth really does come out. Which is exactly the kind of attitude we, as a society, should expect out of our journalists.
Jason Shepard displayed this same fighting spirit when he doggedly covered the 911 center's bungling of the Zimmermann call and the problems with the Joel Marino murder case. And there are countless other relatively unsung heroes of journalism, too, out there every day trying to get at the real stories so that more people can be made aware of what's really going on in their world.
Unfortunately, they're not in the majority, nor are they generally given as much space in the more mainstream press. Add to that the current crumbling of various media outlets and the environment isn't exactly great for hardhitting journalism.
I try to do my part to help, but I'm hardly the best or the brightest out there. So it's always comforting to come across reporters who are still working hard, even in the face of increasingly tough odds, to get important information out to the masses. Whether or not the details relayed by Comp come to fruition, the service he and others like him provide are essential to maintaining an informed citizenry, and to keeping our public officials honest.
Perhaps most important of all, too, they can sometimes help to bring a little bit of peace to people like Mortier's mother, Margie Milutinovich, who is still just trying to find out what happened to her son.
*I could, and may still, write a whole other post about how ridiculous our country's policy toward marijuana is, and how de-criminalizing it could seriously help in reducing prison populations, assisting people with legitimate medical issues, bringing in more tax revenue, and providing a more eco-friendly resource for the construction of a whole slew of products.