Internet news outlet bypassed on media email alert from VCSO on violent Deltona home invasion in which homeowner burned in attack

Sheriff's press releases not sent to internet news / Headline SurferHeadline Surfer photo illustrations / Shown in the image above are Sheriff Michael J. Chitwood and senior PIO staffer Gary Davidson, who have cut off information to Headline Surfer since Chitwood's swearing-in ceremony a week ago today. As a result of this overt and deliberate action by Volusia County's largest law enforcement agency, this internet-based media outlet has been unable to competitively report the news. Instead of assisting this media outlet in its news gathering efforts  the same as afforded the other news entities that provide news coverage, which is the primary responsibility of the PIO staffers, collectively paid in excess of $200,000, just the opposite is taking place. It's no longer a level playing field with this media outlet singled out for exclusion. Headline Surfer asserts its first amendment rights of freedom of the press are being trampled on by Chitwood and his PIO manager by creating a non-level playing field in which this media outlet is not afforded alerts or even the professional courtesy of returned calls.
At left: Here is the VCSO press release listings that Headline Surfer had to play catch up on because the internet news outlet has been cut off from email alerts to breaking news by Sheriff Chitwood and his civilian PIO staff headed up by Gary Davidson, who is paid in excess of $100,000, to facilitate the needs of the media outlets that report the news of Volusia County's largest law enforcement agency. 
Headline Surfer video / Above is Headline Surfer's appearance before the Daytona City Commission in December 2012, when-then Daytona Beach Police Chief Chitwood cut off the internet news provider from his police force's email media alert distribution list. Chitwood was ordered in advance by City Manager Jim Chisholm to remain outside the commission chambers until after the meting so as to not create a confrontation knowing Headline Surfer was going to address the City Commission. That very same night Headline Surfer was added back to the police department's media notification. Chitwood did not like the fact that Headline Surfer had won two journalism awards for an investigative story showing Chitwood promoted a patrol supervisor to captain, despite extensive reports in his personnel file alleging he had been harassing lesbian cops for as long as a decade under his command. Several weeks later Chitwood simply eliminated the email alerts, in favor of having his PIOs alerting media outlets individually  As a result Headliner Surfer was never in attendance at a single press conference called by Chitwood in the subsequent four years because out had been bypassed by the agency's PIOs. Here is a link to that story:
 Daytona's top cop ordered to add Internet newspaper back onto department's PIO e-mail media distribution list
 2012-12-08 02:47:54 -0500
Below: This screenshot taken from a page on the Volusia County Sheriff's website lists the media outlets that routinely gather news from from the law enforcement agency  There used to be 17 media outlets listed, but since Sheriff Michael J. Chitwood was sworn into office a week ago today, Headline Surfer, the only internet-based news media out that generates news every day,, has been removed from the list of area news outlets. Headline Surfer has a proven track record of being the media site second only to the Daytona Beach News-Journal in providing daily news coverage for Volusia County residents for nearly nine years. It also has won more journalism awards in that span than all other media outlets on the list below combined for award-winning breaking news coverage of law enforcement news, including that of the Volusia County Sheriff'sOffice. To add insult to injury, one of the media outlets listed below in the graphic, the NSB Observer, a weekly newspaper, ceased publication three years ago and yet it remains listed.
 
Area news outlets listed on Volusia County's sheriff site now excludes the internet news outlet / Headline Surfer®By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Headline Surfer was not able to report on a timely basis a violent Deltona home invasion or updated news on a motorcycle fatality because the Volusia County Sheriff's Office has eliminated the internet news outlet from its media email distribution alert notifications.

This is among the draconian steps taken in the seven days since Michael J. Chitwood was sworn into office to single out Headline Surfer for exclusion in receiving timely information about news events the largest law enforcement agency in Volusia County is dealing with. The VCSO has three civilian staffers whose main responsibility is facilitating the needs of the media in reporting breaking news that impacts public safety.

Collectively, those three PIO staffers are collectively paid $200,000. And while their mission is to assist in the timely release of news, the public information office run by the senior PIO, Gary Davidson, is doing just the opposite when it comes to Headline Surfer.

Because Headline Surfer has been removed from this electronic notification the only way Headline Surfer can try and keep pace with its news competitors is to literally check the Sheriff's website constantly to see if something has been posted that merits immediate attention for a story or see what other media outlets are reporting and then report it second hand. Either way, it puts Headline Surfer in a situation where its news gathering efforts are compromised and marginalized. In the past seven days, Headline Surfer has had to play catch up on a gas station robbery, an undercover drug sting, a store robbery, the death of a motorcyclist and this home invasion.

The news on a home invasion in Deltona is the most egregious example to date. Here was the lead to a story published at 11:39 a.m. today in the online version of the Daytona Beach News-Journal and headlined, Deltona man beaten, burned in home invasion: 

DELTONA -- A Deltona man was beaten and burned when four masked suspects broke into his home, Volusia sheriff's investigators said.

A press release was posted on the Sheriff's website at 11:15 a.m. and the News-Journal and several of the Orlando TV stations pounced on it because they were alerted by the VCSO's media email notification, which Headline Surfer had been included for nearly nine years before Chitwood was sworn into office last Tuesday. Headline Surfer had last checked the sheriff's website at 11 a.m. and there was nothing about the home invasion at that point.

More on the overt VCSO attack on Headline Surfer will follow this synopsis of what occurred in Deltona:

Deputies responded to the scene at 3067 Mapleshade St. around 11:15 p.m. Monday and found the victim, 42-year-old Rayborne Nesbitt, in a nearby yard. Nesbitt had lacerations and burn marks on his back and head area.

Nesbitt told deputies he was in bed around 10 p.m. when he heard a knock at his door, went to answer and found four males wearing masks. He said three of the suspects had guns pointed at him, and all four pushed their way into the house, demanding money. Nesbitt said the suspects took turns beating him and burned him. The suspects left with cash. Nesbitt was taken to Florida Hospital Fish Memorial in Orange City, where he was treated for his injuries.

The above description was contained in a news release posted at 11:15 a.m. by the Sheriff's public information staff at volusiasheriff.org. All media outlets on the email distribution list were sent a copy of the news release in their inbox simultaneously to the posting. Headline Surfer was not among them.

Through a public records request,  Headline Surfer received a copy of the media email alert distribution list on Monday and this media outlet was omitted. Neither Davidson, who is paid a salary in excess of $101,000 annually to facilitate the needs of the news media nor Sheriff Johnson have explained why Headline Surfer was removed.Headline Surfer was also removed on the Sheriff's website which lists 16 other media outlets and their links.

Headline Surfer had been a recipient of the press releases in its email since the internet news site was initially launched on April 7, 2009, as NSB News, accessed via NSBNews.net and then rebranded on March 1, 2012, as Headline Surfer® and accessed via HeadlineSurfer.com.

Neither the sheriff nor his main PIO Davidson has acknowledged Headline Surfer has been removed. Attempts to reach them by phone have proven fruitless. Either calls go to voicemail or are picked up by a secretary who says they will call back, but the calls are not returned.

But all that changed after Chitwood took office on Jan. 1, replacing then-Sheriff Ben Johnson, who retired after 16 years.

Editor's Note: This story is being updated.

 

 

 

 

 

Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet in Daytona Beach, Florida, via HeadlineSurfer.com. Specializing in breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most experienced reporters with dozens of journalism-industry awards.

View his stories archives here