I’ve never been a huge fan of the “put it out there and let the public decide” school of journalism. If you write, you have an obligation to use your head.
It is with that thought in mind I ponder a story in the SL media here (click) about Alma Welch, the former wife of Tom Welch, the guy who ran the Salt Lake olympic bid for a number of years.
According to the story, she’s now broke and homeless, having lost her east side Federal Heights home to foreclosure or something.
On its face, it’s one of those “look how the rich blow money” stories — nobody feels sorry for boxers or football players who go through their millions of dollars.
But the more one reads the story, the more one wonders if she’s got some sort of mental issues going on — she seems, from reading the article, to be unable to deal effectively with her situation. There is talk of alienating family and friends.
I wasn’t the reporter, and don’t know him and have not called to say “so why did you do this story?” I wonder if a news story really helps Ms. Welch out at this point. Then again, stories of the rich and famous are grist for the journalistic mill. Public figures are fair game.
I get calls from far less famous folks in hard situations a lot — usually my first attempt is to say “well, have you tried this?” and then refer them to the appropriate agency. I tell people quite often “You don’t need a reporter, you need a lawyer/counselor/advisor/whatever.”
People who say they are homeless and nobody will help them, especially, give me great pause because I know the homeless community around here and you have to be trying really hard to make them not want to help you, just to give one example.
The story discusses how Ms. Welch got a $400,000 line of credit on her home despite having no income, and that is a good question. Banks were handing out money willy-nilly for a while there. But on the other hand, who’s fault is it if she applied for the loan and took it?
It speculates she is a victim of the housing crisis, but in my experience a lot of the victims of that crisis have a self-responsibility component to their troubles. I don’t buy the “Silly me, I don’t know how to handle money” claim too many people make.
And despite having a million dollars in stuff put away for auction or something, she can’t come up with rent on an apartment?
One of the hardest things to do if you’ve lived a rich lifestyle is take it back to something you or I might find more than comfortable.
I dunno. A disturbing story on many levels. I hope the story inspires someone to get her some help, but not money help.