Monthly Archives: August 2011

Humanizing Crime – A Difficult Approach

The most powerful people I can speak to on camera about a crime are not police, judges, prosecutors or witnesses….the most powerful are the victims.

Victims may sound weak and afraid, but in the end their words can be a powerful motivator for police, prosecutors and in many cases, voters.

Victims remind all of us of why justice is so important.

One of the most effective ways of demonstrating the impact of crime is sharing a victim’s story, if they are willing to speak and nobody gets in the way of censoring their perspective.

Often, victims provide the human, emotional connection to a crime  government spokespeople or public information officers just can’t convey with canned, stoic soundbites..

Today I was eager to help a victim of cyberbullying at Prairie View High School share her story.   She is a staff member whose family has been tormented by a mysterious, anonymous bully who created a facebook page in her name and image, and posted explicit messages.   The harassment has been going on since November.

Sickening.  Pathetic.  I hope they catch the culprit and file charges to show this crime isn’t tolerated in Adams County. Will it get to that point?

While speaking to the victim over the phone this morning, I could feel how the torment of this bully affected her life. She’s been losing sleep. She’s been frustrated. She sounded like a nice woman who just wanted this to stop.

I was eager to put her on air and she seemed quite eager to quickly share her perspective about how she’s been coping with the bully.  She seemed ready to show how she went to police, and how there is now a criminal investigation.  Perhaps other parents in her position could learn from her, I thought.  I said we could meet during her lunch hour.  She said she could take lunch anytime.  Sounded good.

And then she said it.  I knew it was coming.  She said she would have to check with her boss first before an interview.

It was at this moment, based on my experience, I knew she would never appear on camera.  A supervisor was now involved and I feared this would erase any chance I had of a valuable interview for today.

I was right.

The victim, quite understandably, recoiled.   She seemed to ignore my follow up text and emails. Instead I got a call from the principal.  He wouldn’t speak on camera.  I asked to speak with the victim and he responded by saying, “she’s working.”

I’m not sure what the principal said to the victim, but it’s clear his involvement delayed her decision to speak candidly before broadcast time.   I don’t blame the guy.  The principal has to look after the school’s reputation and protect the students and staff.  He’s just doing his job too.  He has no idea who I am.  I’m just a new reporter in town.  Perhaps distrust was a motivator and perhaps he just doesn’t see the value in such a report.  That’s just his perspective, if my speculation is accurate.

I had to leave the school to make deadline, and I didn’t have time to wait and see if the victim would eventually come around.

I ran the story anyway without the victim, attributed court documents, and did the best I could to try and convey the seriousness of the crime.  In the end, the victim had no voice and the human element was non-existent in my report.

This happens often during the daily cycle of news.  Deadlines come and go, but always the story is alive in the thoughts and mind of the victim at the center of it all.  I do hope it works out for her.   I hope police get the culprit.   I hope to follow up, if there is a follow up.

Now on to the next story, whatever that may be.

Nostalgia Overdose for 25¢

25¢! And they all work!

I was in the zone, my friends.   It was a good time to be alive in Denver today.

It’s been 24 years since my hand gripped a joystick on a Double Dragon arcade game.   This time I was a couple of feet taller and I didn’t have to stand on my toes to see the screen.  I found my old favorite video game at the 1Up Bar near Coors Field.

1Up has numerous classic games, from Pac Man to Street Fighter II.   And the games work perfectly and only cost 25¢ a play. The price is stuck in the past, and I fine with that.

The last time I played Double Dragon on the arcade system was back in 1987 when I lived in Harbor City, CA as a kid.   I remember aggressively searching for lost quarters at home almost every day  to feed the beast.   Aside from Garbage Pail Kids, most of my money was spent on that machine one summer.  It was quite an expensive mission, but eventually I beat the game with a group of friends.

Today it was good to hear the old familiar theme music.   After years of playing XBox 360, nothing can beat the feeling of finding that old game again in its original form.  Double Dragon, it was good seeing you again.  Man, I’m a dork.

I also took on Galaga, Pac Man, Mrs. Pac Man, Street Fighter II and Donkey Kong.

I’m not sure who’s behind the 1Up Bar, but I do know it just opened this year according to its website.   The bar tender told me today the line at night often extends around the corner from the bar’s entrance.

If you ever find yourself near Coors Field, seek out 1Up in the early afternoon when it’s not too busy.  The kid inside you will thank you.  Oh…and make sure you arm yourself with quarters.

Road Rage Suspect’s Jail Photo Released

Karyn Roth, 21, charged with attempted murder after road rage incident.

The 21-year-old woman at the center of some serious road rage allegations continues to sit behind bars at the Adams County Detention Center.

Today authorities released her mug shot.

I’ve tried several avenues to get Roth’s side of the incident. So far, we’ve only heard from Monica Trujillo who now has 40 stitches to the face after the stabbing. Roth has declined an interview from jail, her husband declined to comment and her public defender didn’t want to comment either.

The next court date for Roth is set for September 9th. It appears, according to her court paper work, the hearing will be for a possible bond reduction. Her real-time booking information at the jail currently shows “Bond Amount NA.” Her court paperwork show’s no bond has been set. We’ll see what happens at that hearing.

This is quite an unfortunate circumstance for everyone involved in this case. Roth is quite young herself and is facing three felony charges. As I reported, she doesn’t have any serious criminal history on her adult record. Juvenile records are not public, so its unknown if Roth had any past run-ins with police as a minor.

Perhaps someday we will hear from Roth herself about exactly what what happened.

On Road Rage and the Grocery Store

I’m getting used to Denver traffic.   I’ve accepted the slow downs and the bumper-to-bumper traffic I’ve been experiencing since I started commuting to work.

It’s life.  No big deal.

I try to be a cool guy on the road and I try to be patient.   For the most part, I’ve found drivers are pretty darn polite too….for the most part.  So far I haven’t been cut-off or flipped off….yet.

Here’s a case I reported on where such a common moment turned violent.   The woman in my story received 40 stitches to the face after a road rage incident right in front of her home in Commerce City.

While there’s a big difference in how people react to each other on the road, there’s something to be said about reactions in tighter, closer spaces.

The grocery store is a good example.  We’re all pushing around shopping carts, turning corners, and trying to navigate a four-wheeled basket through narrow aisles.    We’ve had moments of getting in someone’s way in the soup aisle or getting stuck behind the slow-goer in the cereal section.

I love how people are far more polite behind the wheel, so to speak, of a shopping cart.  Personal space is reduced, and we are forced to be polite and nice.  You can’t flip-off a dude in the freezer section and speed off.    A fight could happen in aisle 6.

On the freeway, we are separated by several meters and are in our own little worlds made up of fiber glass paneled vehicles.    We can speed away quickly without a care to the stranger who drives slow in the fast lane.

As a reporter, I’ve covered several cases of road rage turning violent.  In the end, its always about personal pride getting in the way.   As I said on the news set today, it’s always best to let things go.  Be a good driver like a good shopper and just smile.  You’ll get there.

Hello Colorado

New Cards. Patrick Bateman is Jealous.

Hi!

This is my first post on my newly rebooted website.  For my old New Mexico based blog, you can click here.

To know more about me, you can click on the about section.  If you don’t want to do that, you can read this brief post.

My name is Jeremy Jojola.  The last name is pronounced ho-ho-la.   Get it?  Cool.

I’m an investigative reporter for 9 News in Denver.   I just started my new job just a week ago.  I’m excited.  It’s a great job.  I’ve already reported on some news here in Denver and I’m currently working on some long term reports I’m eager to show you soon.

I loving this town more and more every day.   This a real fantastic city and I’m happy to work for the people of Colorado.

I’m already filing CORA (Colorado Open Records Act) requests and I’m eager to see how strong CORA can be when it comes to demanding public documents.   So far, out out of the several records requests I’ve already filed, I haven’t found much resistance or claims of exemptions, which government agencies like to do.   So far……

I will not update this blog daily because I’m quite busy with work.  But I will post here every now and then when I feel like writing down my personal observations while gathering news.

I’m quite active on facebook, twitter and now Google+ so please follow me there!

And of course if you have any tips, please contact me at jeremy.jojola@9news.com.  Check out the new cards for other ways to contact me!