Saturday, March 22, 2008

Why we ran a disturbing picture

A tragic event struck our community Wednesday. An estranged husband shot his wife then pointed the gun at himself, leaving them both dead and their children without parents. The Gazette ran this photo above shot by Gazette photographer Kevin Kreck with the story. Some readers were upset and responded on our website. One reader said "showing a picture of the bodies was tacky. Real tacky." Another wrote: "The Media in CS (Colorado Springs) disgusts me!" I understand why they were upset. They should be and that's why I feel we made the right decision to run the picture. Kevin's photo showed the tragedy of the event and made readers stop and think about it. Kevin told me today that he waited until the police blocked the view of the husband's head. He didn't want to show the man's disfigured face. It wasn't necessary. But showing the bodies told the reality of the violence. If one woman sees this photo and is inspired to get out of her own bad domestic situation or if this photo encourages people in our community to seek a better way to protect people in similar positions, running the photo was worth it. Maybe our society wouldn't be so numb to events like this if we didn't filter the news as much as we do. Don't get me wrong. Newspapers shouldn't run disturbing photos without a very good reason. But this was a very good reason. Kevin's picture still haunts me and it should because we should all be haunted by this story.
I think some readers were haunted too by their comments on our website. One reader wrote: "I think these pictures are horrific and graphic, but they show the frailty of life, and really makes us think about our own. Perhaps one could even go so far as it COULD be helpful to some abused women reading this, thinking about taking the restraining order off their abusive spouse/boyfriend. Seeing such a graphic picture may get them thinking they don't want to be the next one face-down in the grass."
Another reader wrote: "We live in a retched violent society and if we've any hope of raising the public's desire to force change we must first expose that very society to the truth." I couldn't agree more.


Anonymous said...

Mr. P.Scott McKibben- President and Publisher of the Gazette Telegraph

Mr. Jeff Thomas- Editor and Vice President

cc: Lance Benzel,Writer- Caralyn Ray Mitchell,Writer- Kevin Kreck, Photographer

Please let me know you received this email as I am sure your’s is screened due to the volume you must receive in your position. If not I will come there and hand deliver a copy and speak with you in person Monday to be sure you receive and review it.

Thank you for your time.

Note: This is intended to be a "letter to the Editor" and I'd like you to and give you full permission to publish this. I hope you can find room for something like this with all the pot holes in the street letters. If so, thank you in advance for publishing this.

I am writing you in regards to your recent photo printed on page A3 on Thursday March 20, 2008 in the Gazette. This photo shows a dead man and my NIECE laying dead in their front yard after a murder-suicide by him, uncovered and exposed for all your readers to see. Laying there in full view of your readers is someone's Mommy, Daddy, daughter and sister.

It is obvious from the angles and zoom your photographer was out of the police perimeter designed to protect some dignity from the press such as you. It appears they shot from high up, probably on top of a car or convinced a neighbor to go to their upper window to get the shot.

You and your staff approved this photo to be used. Have you any respect our family and our community? The mother of this poor girl who opened the paper that morning after this tragedy? Her father who lost his only daughter so tragically? How about her other kids old enough to read the paper about their Mom? The general public that REALLY doesn't want that kind of photo to get the point of the story.

Review the TV news casts that night. Crime scene, visibly upset policemen, fire department, crime scene tape…but no exposed dead bodies of someone's children and parents. I'm sure they got the same shots…but didn't use them. You and your staff have been watching CSI too much, this is real life and you personally have effected people's lives by approving such a photo.

I question if that was your daughter laying there if you would have approved this photo.

No, I don't question it.

Uncle Mark Morris

Christian Murdock said...

I understand why you are upset and I'm glad you expressed your feelings. I want to clear up something. Kevin was on the ground when he shot the picture. He had the same view that anyone in the neighborhood had. If I was in your shoes I would be upset too, but I still think The Gazette made the right decision for the reasons I stated. Thanks again for your comments and I'm really sorry for your family's loss. I can't imagine what you are going through.