The Enterprise should do better

To the Editor:

The article “A young man’s journey through clinics and courts, through crime and depression” (Thursday, Jan. 9, 2010) demonstrates extremely poor judgment on the part of The Altamont Enterprise. I am assuming that The Enterprise had a release to access the confidential medical and psychiatric information that was reported, but that does not excuse publishing it.

While the suicide attempt and rescue at Thacher Park was undoubtably newsworthy, the intimate details of a young man’s medical and psychiatric history were not. Once posted on your website, this information will follow him for the rest of his life, with predictable negative consequences for employment, housing, and personal relationships.

The thousands of strangers who read your article, and anyone who does a web search of the young man’s name, will know information that they have no legitimate reason to know. The Enterprise should do better in the future.

Cliff Zucker


Editor’s note: Zachary Barrantes’s mother was eager to have the full story told about her son. She was grateful our reporter, Sean Mulkerrin, took the time and put in the effort to find out about the many problems he has faced in his short life and also the obstacles she faced in finding him after he disappeared on New Year’s Eve.

An online search now or in years hence will show many, many news reports saying that Zachary Barrantes attempted suicide, that a sheriff said “he obviously is battling some demons” or “he has some mental health issues.” The online search will also turn up arrest and conviction records. But one source, The Altamont Enterprise, will put those statements and facts in context, empathetically relating the narrative of what led this young man to try to kill himself.

We, as a society, cannot begin to fix the systems that failed Zachary Barrantes if we do not first understand what the problems are. See related editorial. — Melissa Hale-Spencer, editor

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