Wick Communications

When the news isn’t pretty

In Ethics on September 18, 2014 at 5:06 pm

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The Sidney Herald posted this photo on its website and Facebook page and caught heck for it.

The Herald’s Susan Minichiello posted the photo and asked my opinion after getting some negative feedback online. I told her that it is the duty of a local news site to publish the news and a rollover accident that brings out a dozen first-responders, may have stalled traffic and was clearly visible to everyone who passed by on a state highway is news. Period. People in the community want to know what happened, and whether the driver and other occupants are OK. Frankly, they have a right to know.

Please note that Susan was very careful. While she took other photos, some that showed the man being pulled from the car, she knew better than to post those. She brought the camera back to the office and calmly scrolled through what she had. She found the perfect angle that showed the extent of the crash and the response. It isn’t graphic. It doesn’t violate community standards. It’s about as good of a car crash photo as you are liable to find. …

You might have noticed that some people have decided that their public actions deserve privacy. This is particularly perplexing when people complain on social media, since these very same people post photos of their children and all manner of private escapade yet somehow think that their interactions with the police and fire departments that your tax dollars fund is somehow private business. We all get calls from people unhappy about arrest reports, DUIs, and photos like this one. It’s part of being a newspaper editor.

I want Susan and the rest of the Wick journalists to find solace in the other 20 comments that were attached to the Facebook post. Most offered prayers for the family. One stated: “I applaud the Herald for reporting the news. Well done.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

— Clay

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