After over two years of covering the story about John Drayman being charged with embezzlement, it has finally come to an end with his sentencing on Monday – well at least a part of the story has concluded.
There will still be stories when he is released, and more than likely some follow up, but for this main portion – the accusations, investigation, charges filed, trial and sentencing – it is done.
As a reporter for a community paper, I will always be writing about people, events and organizations I know well. And this story was no exception.
I have known John ever since my son had a history project to do and John helped him. I know the MSPA members who were the first to realize there was missing money. That is what community is about; we all know each other in one way or the other. We are on the same organizations or support the same causes. Our paths cross because we love and support our community. The MSPA members and John have done so much to improve our town and to support our youth; of course our paths crossed and friendships were made. But always in the back of my mind I know that someday I may have to write about these people or their organizations in an unflattering light. Although it might seem a dilemma to some, I have never found it difficult to separate the community person from the journalist. As a community person, I strive to be fair; as a journalist I do the same.
As a reporter I have always tried to present both sides of the story to our readers. It is not up to me, or our paper, to give our opinion or to sway our readers into believing one side or the other. Robin and I share this view because this is what newspapers were like when we were growing up, and we know our community. I do not believe that people in Crescenta Valley are incapable of forming their own opinion on a subject like John Drayman. Those who feel he is innocent have weighed the facts, even considered his guilty plea, and have come to that conclusion; those who think he’s guilty have done the same. None, I have found, have been willing to go against their true feelings because they felt disempowered by the City. In fact, history has shown that our community has felt the most empowered when others have tried to take away our power.
I have been able to watch this story unfold from the unique position as a community reporter. That is why I know how hard this decision to go to the police was for these MSPA members. I know how John felt when he heard they had gone to the police. This has divided the town in part due to the business side of losing money but also, and perhaps more importantly, because friendships and relationships have been changed forever.