Every once in a while we write an article that touches a nerve and we get angry criticism. Recently it was over the dead body found in Logger’s Run.
One of the criticisms that irritates the most is the accusation that it’s unprofessional to show the body or anything close to it. Of course we’re not professional journalists. We’re still learning and we will make mistakes. This wasn’t a mistake.
Two recent incidents show how major “professional” media handle similar situations. They don’t hesitate to show dead bodies.
The New York Times, which is often perceived as the elite of all news media, showed the video of Kevin Ward being killed by Tony Stewart’s car.
The video shows the collision and Ward’s body laying on the track afterward. We’ve seen this video countless times now on all major media including the network news, ESPN and more.
The other prominent incident was in Ferguson, Missouri. Various media showed the body of Michael Brown laying in the street after he was shot, such as Reason Magazine. The local Fox News affiliate there showed the body covered with a sheet, but with blood clearly visible.
Update: In late 2014 the Associated Press ran the below image of a dead body floating after the Asian Airlines crash:
The Robin Williams suicide was also covered in great depth, with major media (including the LA Times) reporting how he did it. There have been other suicides over the past several months that we were notified of but did not report. We chose to report the one in Logger’s Run because it closed a road. The public had a right to know what caused the road closure.
While we disagree with the complaints, we did take the criticism seriously. The discussion led us to research the issue and in particular we carefully read guidelines for reporting on suicide from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
We will continue to use our own judgment in deciding what stories to report and what pictures and/or video to use. If we think there’s a concern, we will include a warning. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. We certainly welcome polite and constructive criticism. But stop telling us it’s unprofessional. If it tells the story more effectively, we will use it. That’s what professional news media do.