Professional Journalism, Dead Bodies and West Boca News

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.

Sandalfoot: Home Explosion and the Media Scrum – Photos and Video

Update: The house appears to be secure. We saw a neighbor being interviewed (see video at bottom) and she said that she heard an explosion that sounded like an electrical transformer, and then heard someone climb over her fence. Government officials are reporting that the property was being used as a “grow house” for marijuana production. No word yet on any injuries.
Sandalfoot Cove was host to numerous first responders and a media scrum. Residents reported an explosion on SW 62nd Street, which lies between Palmetto Park Road and SW 3rd Street, between Lyons and 441.

The street was full of people and emergency vehicles when West Boca News arrived. Here you can see a cameraman in the foreground, with Fire and PBSO personnel mid-ground and residents in the background.
Out on SW 3rd the TV trucks were in force:
Here you can see the house in question, with windows in obvious disarray and PBSO deputies heading around to the back of the house:
And here’s the best close-up we could get of the house.
While first responders were entering without safety equipment, a PBSO deputy told us to stay back to the other side of the street because the house might still be unstable. We didn’t believe him but obeyed anyway.
They brought out lots of heavy equipment, including the PBSO bomb squad:
Here’s some video of the scene:

And here’s part of a TV station interview with the next-door neighbor

A reader helped with research on the property. It is owned by “62nd Avenue Holdings, LLC.” That company is filed with Florida by registered agent (and real estate agent) John McCann of Boca Valley Realty on North Federal Highway.
The Sunbiz filing shows one individual who may be the owner or manager of an investor group, Mario Monello.
We don’t know if it’s the same person, but there was a Mario Monello involved with Lehman Brothers before the financial collapse. That Mario Monello is mentioned in this CNN story about leveraged finance back in 1989. One fictional work about the collapse has a character named Mario Monelli, perhaps an homage: The Lions’ Den.

Seeking help from Wall Street, Julie finds an unlikely defender of the American system, Mario Monelli, a Mergers and Acquisitions expert at a prestigious investment banking house, pitting him against his long time Wall Street nemesis, Barton Mulvaney, rumored to have shadowy ties to the Royal family. Mario is nervous about the idea, and whether he has the pedigree to challenge Bart. But he’s also falling in love with Julie and uses the opportunity to be around her.
Mario also heads up the Zoo Crew, a wild bunch of investment bankers who lack the breeding and education of their colleagues—but not the brains—and have dedicated themselves to helping beleaguered companies fend off corporate raiders.

We called McCann’s office and left a message. We were not the first call and we suspect Mr. McCann is wisely avoiding any public comment.
Here’s another video – firefighters entering the home after the situation stablized: