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I recently cut advertising ties with a local media outlet. When my parents started Cotton & Cotton Insurance in 1983 they began advertising with them. And since the merger of the agencies into Northern Lakes Insurance we've continued to do so. It's locally owned and was a way to support local journalism and promote some other local businesses. But the downside is our ad dollars were also supporting...

  • A decision to quit covering our local high school athletics programs.

  • Regularly publishing a piece referred to as Kosciusko County's Most Wanted complete with mug shots. These are folks charged with such heinous crimes as not skipping work to attend a status hearing or meet with their probation officer.

  • Publishing all the jail bookings.

  • Choosing to publish anonymous letters to the editor.

Any of those on their own should have been enough to quit spending my money there. And yet I ignored it - or justified it. I realized that complaining about it while spending money to perpetuate it was, um, hypocritical. Ouch. I simply couldn't do it any longer.

Many of the folks we serve through LITE have had their names and faces splashed across social media thanks to this entity. Think about your absolute worst day - lost a job, devastating divorce, death in the family, lost your temper with a loved one... Now imagine that being posted in public for all to see and make deriding comments about. That is precisely what our people deal with.

I was confronted by my hypocrisy last summer by a Most Wanted post. The mug shot at the top of the page was of a gentleman I had interacted with in one of my classes inside the jail just 30 minutes prior. He'd been enrolled in three of our programs and doing well in them all. He was about to become a Trusty. He was a proven leader within his block and was reconnecting with loved ones on the outside who were beginning to believe what LITE was seeing; he'd had enough, wanted to change, and was doing the work to change. Then, this "most wanted" hits the web and social media. And the vile comments began. I just googled and they're still up. So, when my guy petitions for work release and goes to apply for jobs this will all still be out there. When he completes his time at work release and tries to rent a place to live - same stuff will still be out there.

Though the error was pointed out, no correction or retraction was made. Now contrast that with a stabbing incident which occurred in a wealthy neighborhood this winter. Not only was the suspect, who was arrested, not named, but the address of his home where the incident took place was also not listed. Our folks in "most wanted"? Home addresses, even to the apartment or trailer lot number are listed. I wonder why that might be...?

There was also an incident during the "pandemic summer" when a person drove their vehicle into one of our lakes "by mistake". They left the road on a straight stretch, drove between homes, across a front yard, over a concrete seawall, and into the lake. The vehicle was fully visible, though partially submerged, during that morning's boat in service. Some online sleuthing revealed the summer resident's name and address, which happened to be near the owner of this particular publication's home. After the initial pictures, nothing else was published about it. Do you, like me, wonder how that happened?

It took me some time to do the right thing, but I finally did. I owe it to the people I serve through LITE. Besides, I'd rather advertise here...

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Thank you for living your values! Also, for standing up for those that society turns their back on.

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