Who cares if you hurt grieving friends and families so long as you can sell your newspapers, right?... That attitude gets me so angry.
I’ve been a journalist for a number of years, for the most part I stay away from hard news coverage. Why? Because I got tired of editors who just wanted headlines, no matter how graphic the image was.
A freelance photographer that I know was shooting pictures for a local newspaper, he captured some great shots of a house fire with multiple trucks and firefighters in action. The editor asked if anyone died or at least got injured. The photographer said, no, they got everyone out safely. Editor’s answer, oh, nice pics but we can’t use them, nobody wants to read about that.
The truth is though, sensational headlines DO sell newspapers. Emotional and revealing soundbites DO attract viewers to the local TV news program. Many people thrill to the most intimate and gruesome details about the latest car accident, or violent attack, or natural disaster. Maybe… maybe they don’t think it’s real, maybe it’s just another Hollywood movie…
Mouths water over every detail, until it happens to your friends, your family, or you. Near the community where I used to live there was a terrible car accident this week, two young people lost their lives. The first newspaper article I read gave the facts, it identified the individuals and told a little about each, then it gave an account of the accident. It was enough detail. A little later a Facebook friend sent me another newspaper’s article; this one was graphic. This article detailed the victims’ final moments with graphic descriptions, it was almost written like an excerpt from a horror novel.
Today I saw Facebook posts of friends who had endured this second article. Although they all had been saddened by the deaths of their friends, reading this second, very graphic, article left them in anguish and tears. It pushed them beyond mourning for the losses, the account had horrified them, left them with mental images that will forever haunt. What was the need of that detail — oh yes, to sell newspapers?
If you want a horror story there are plenty of books and movies to binge on. Let those editors know that there is no need, no desire, for horror stories in the newspaper.
May the victims of this accident Rest in Peace — and may their families and friends find comfort and strength.