Comprehensive coverage

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

For the last week and a half, I have spent my days at the Phelps County Courthouse in Rolla covering the Christopher Collings' murder trial. This represents a vast commitment of time, effort and resources by this newspaper to provide complete coverage of this important and high profile trial, because we believe our readers deserve to have a local reporter present during the proceedings.

This trial is a difficult one to cover, because it centers around the rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl, Rowan Ford. Some of the reports you've read in print and online have been graphic and disturbing. This information is not meant to be sensational; it is testimony presented by witnesses. We believe it's vitally important to report the facts as accurately and unflinchingly as possible to reveal the true nature of this gruesome crime.

I am here to record the proceedings of the criminal trial and to keep readers informed about a rape and murder that shook Barry County to its core. As the local newspaper of record, it's essential we serve as the eyes and ears for those who are unable to travel two and a half hours to attend the trial in person. We are also here for the victim, Rowan Ford, for Rowan's friends and family and for the many local law enforcement officers who worked countless hours searching for Rowan and then gathering evidence and investigating the case after Rowan's body was found.

To make our reporting as comprehensive and timely as possible, we are utilizing a new reporting technique that involves submitting regular live updates from the courtroom using Facebook and Twitter. These updates are also being streamed live onto our website at www.cassville-democrat.com. I am also writing daily news article after each day of court. These reports are posted online and are also being published in our print edition.

Our readers should also realize the amount of time and the level of resources that Barry County is incurring to try this case. Prosecutor Johnnie Cox has dedicated months of time over the past four and a half years preparing for trial, and he is representing Barry County very well in the courtroom.

The trial will continue all this week and possibly enter a third week. I hope you'll follow my trial coverage by "liking" the Cassville Democrat on Facebook, following me on Twitter at @monetteditor or visiting our website at www.cassville-democrat.com. I'm here for you.

Lisa Schlichtman