Thursday, November 29, 2007

Reader asks why we showed Paso girls mourning a classmate's death

The Tribune should not have taken a picture of the three Flamson Middle School students that is on the front page. You photographed them at a vulnerable moment as they mourned the loss of a classmate. That was wrong to do.
_ Anonymous reader

In Tuesday's paper we published a photo taken by staff photographer Jayson Mellom of three girls at Flamson Middle School grieving the tragic death of Ashlyn Vargas. She was a Flamson student who died in an all-terrain vehicle accident on Thanksgiving. A remembrance event was set up by school officials for students who wanted to mourn together, as well as leave messages for the family on a banner.
We had school permission to attend the session, which means the students knew they could be photographed. And Jayson acted as unobtrusively as possible. He stood quietly in a corner for nearly 15 minutes before he took the picture that we ran. "My goal was to be invisible and yet tell the story of the impact this girl had on the school."
Jayson did not seek out this assignment -- his editors directed him to cover the grieving. The room where the students gathered "was really jammed," Jayson said. "It was just horrible. All these kids were crying ... It was just sad."
Still, it was a legitimate news story to cover for the reason Jayson cited. Ashlyn's death was affecting her school community, and we wanted to communicate that information to readers.
I like to tell young journalists that news can be good, bad or ugly. Our job is to cover it fairly, accurately and sensitively, and Jayson did that well.
_ Tad Weber

1 comment:

Local reader said...

Running a photo of mourning students doesn't "take advantage" of their grief. If the Trib's objective is to cover the news, in this case the news IS the students' grief ... the emotional impact of the loss of a young, fragile, precious life. we mourn with them when we see their pain.