Letter to the Editor

Newspaper criticized for printing wreck photo on front page

Thursday, June 26, 2008

June 5, 2008, the life on this earth of a precious young man came to a sudden end in a tragic accident on State Highway 395 North. This was one of the saddest days of my life, but also a day that God called to my attention many things for which I am so thankful and blessed.

It is a great blessing to live in a town small enough and caring enough, that when tragedy strikes, you don't have to call or ask for help. The people of the town, law enforcement, church people, (not just your church, all churches), business people, family, friends, and neighbors are immediately at your side sharing your grief, feeling your pain, and wanting with every fiber in their being to do anything they can to assist you.

It is a great blessing that the Chief of Police knows exactly where you live and knows exactly which of your friends to call to lead him to you since you were not home. It is a great blessing to have a friend such as that, the one keeping up with you as you work outside with dangerous machinery in the summer heat. It is a great blessing that the same officer, without asking, knows your best friend and summons them in your time of need. He also knows exactly where your parents live so that he can assist with them. That would never happen in a large town.

It is a great blessing that the officers of the Sheriff's Department are so concerned about shielding you from as much pain as possible that they work frantically, sadly to no avail, to keep you from witnessing any signs of this tragic accident. It is a sad note that our local newspaper did not show that same concern.

It is a great blessing that in the week that follows your phone is ringing continuously as concerned people continue to offer their assistance and just call to check on you. It is a great blessing that at any given time during this week your home has two or more friends in it helping you to get through all of the things that must be taken care of due to the tragedy.

It is a sad note that the issue of our local newspaper, dated one week from the day of the tragic accident, chose to place on its front page a picture taken only minutes after the tragedy. This photographer captured the event to the maximum. Anyone who even glanced at the photo instantly knew what was taking place. This same local newspaper is delivered by mail every week into the home of the parents of the young man that lost his life. The parents who have lived with this horrible reality of life for a week already, will now have the image of this horrific photo burned into their mind for eternity if they happen to unfold their local newspaper which they have paid to have delivered into their home each week. Imagine how much more it will affect them, if in the event they should see that same paper laying around in a public place next week, weeks later, or even months from now.

It is a sad note that reporting the news in this fashion comes before the respect and dignity of the family that has suffered such a loss. For certain, I know that the newspaper feels they were just "doing their job." I, for one, feel that they could have "done their job" and covered the news quite well, but not in the manner that they chose. I would only hope that before the newspaper chooses to publish such a graphic photo again, they would come from behind the camera and place themselves in front of the camera for a moment. I would like them to ask the question, if this were near and dear and personal to me would I want it published? I would ask that they try, I say try because unless it has happened to them there is no possible way that they could, but just try to place themselves in the shoes of the family members of the deceased.

I would pray that no one ever experiences such grief and pain. And yes, I do know a newspaper staff member, a lady I am proud to call my friend has walked in those very shoes, and my heart still goes out to her even these many years later.

As afore mentioned, I do know the paper's stand on this issue. I spoke with my friend in great detail before mailing this letter. I listened, with an open mind, to the paper's side of the issue before sending in this letter. But after much thought and prayer and as many days have passed, still at the day's end after the dust has settled, I must respectfully disagree with the decision of our local newspaper.

It is a blessing to live in a small town, not perfect town, but a town with many, wonderful caring people. People that hurt when you hurt. People that want to help you when you hurt. People that really care about you. Yes, that should be the goal of each of us, to care more deeply for every member of this human race, to respect and honor their feelings and to do our best to help them rise up and live again after they have faced a great tragedy. I would be amiss, if I did not at this time say THANK YOU to each and every one of you that helped this family in any way. This family is so connected to me and so dear to my heart. I cannot say "Thank you" enough. Thank you doesn't even scratch the surface of what I would like to say, but words could not even begin to express how I feel.

Step back, look at your life today and count your many blessings. I feel you will surely agree with me that we have many.

It is a blessing to live in a small town where I can write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper and disagree with the decisions they made and know that they will publish my letter.

Connie Booth Buss Salem