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Would you run this picture? PM class comments

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  1. Erin Grant
    October 26, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    After reading the article and the column in regards to the homeless man frozen in the ice, I would definitely run this photo. Yes, it is a pretty tough picture to take in. No one wants to open the front page of the paper to see that. However, I bet it did sell some more papers than usual that day.

    I would run this photo on the front page. Not only would it sell copies of a paper but it is an issue that needs to be addressed. The world is not all rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes the public has to know or learn about issues that are not necessarily uplifting. And unfortunately, both Lincoln and Detroit have a homeless problem.

    I like how the column discussed the economic crisis that could have potentially put Johnnie in a homeless situation. I think people need to look a lot deeper into this picture. This picture is not just a photo of someone dying a horrible death and it’s not just unsettling to see. This photo, with the article and column that accompany it, illustrates that it could have been you. I think people tend to think that nothing bad can happen to them and this picture is a clear indication that anyone is susceptible to unfortunate events.

  2. Courtney Pitts
    October 27, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Personally, I don’t want to see dead bodies ever, let alone on the front page of the newspaper. But I think that’s the point. The photo isn’t just a picture of dead person’s legs; the body as well as the building it’s found in is a “symbol of decay” as Charlie LeDuff puts it.

    I would run the picture on the front page of the Detriot News, because it’s a dose of reality the city needed. If the story was soley about the body, I probably wouldn’t. However, the story takes a unique angle. The point about Matty Mouron, a billionaire, owning the abandoned warehouse adds to the irony of the economic hard times faced by Johnnie Redding and other homeless men living in Mouron’s buildings.

    Times were rough. The city had a problem to face, and the photo forced them to see the issue instead of ignore it.

    Now, would I run the photo in the Lincoln Journal Star? If the circumstances were similar, yes. If a corpse was found in a Warren Buffett warehouse and police ignored my calls while other homeless people faced the same fate, I would run it in the Journal Star. Without the story, the context, this photo would belong inside the paper, not on page one.

    The columnist made the best point: People shouldn’t be so freaked out that the paper ran the photo. People should be freaked out that there was a body frozen in ice and no one did anything about it.

    There’s a difference between running a photo of a dead person to shock people and running a photo of a dead person to illustrate a serious issue. This photo undeniably illustrated the serious problem of homelessness and lack of compassion in the city to the people of Detroit .

  3. Sam Millard
    October 28, 2009 at 12:20 am

    I would only publish this picture in certain circumstances, depending on the content of the story. I definitely would not run the name of the man who is frozen in the warehouse. Also, I may run the picture on the front page if it adds to the story and does not distract readers from the story.
    After reading the story on Detroit New’s website, I thought I would run both the picture and the story. This is a very serious topic to cover because there are 19,000 homeless people or 1 in 50 people is homeless, like the article said. That is a huge percentage of people to not have a roof over their head, especially in a city where it gets very cold in the winter. I cannot imagine not having a place to live, even in the summer. This picture definitely conveys the seriousness of this story, and I thought it was effective to run it.
    I would probably run this on the front page of The Detroit News because it hits close to home, and I think it is definitely an attention-grabbing story. I may run it in the Lincoln Journal Star, but would not put it on the front page. If it were a body found here in Lincoln, then I would run it on the front page.
    I thought that Lessenberry stated some interesting points. He talked about how some news outlets talked about the man who was frozen in the warehouse and his family. I do not know if I would do that because this could be a very heart-breaking story for the family. If the family commented to a news source about the story, then I would run the article. I also thought it was interesting that the newsroom slang for frozen homeless people is a “bumsicle.”
    Like Lessenberry said, “some may have ‘chosen’ this lifestyle, or made bad choices that got them there.” Others have not. Two of the most well-worded sentences in Lessenberry’s column is, “This is reality, people; time to wake up and smell your society rotting. We’ve been living, most of us, in a world that has allowed us to mostly insulate ourselves from reality.” His article really changed my mind, and I would run this picture and article for sure now. I would run it on the front page of The Detroit News, and I would run it in the Lincoln Journal Star not on the front page. Our society does really need to open their eyes and see the bad things that go on within America. That is the first step in fixing the problems of our society.

  4. Chelle Boomgaarden
    October 28, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    I had read this story and seen this photo before so I knew immediately when I saw our assignment that I would publish it on the front page. The photo is grim but not gory, which allows it to be front page material while carrying an impact that isn’t going to be completely anti-Cheerio breakfast.

    The story about homelessness in Detroit is astounding. I can’t believe that there are that many people homeless, but this fact also makes the police’s slowness and jaded response make more understandable. It also seemed like this wasn’t news to the people of Detroit, and certainly not the reporters who used the term “bumscicle”. Even though some people may be jaded on the subject, the more awareness a subject can be given the more support for changing that situation will come from readers.

    One thing that the article could have contained that may have added more to the message about homelessness was to include race statistics. Such as, 1 in __ number of African Americans are homeless versus 1 in __ number of whites. This is just a suggestion since I am not from the Detroit News or a reader of it. From the column we later learn that the man in the ice was African American, so perhaps the reporter on scene didn’t know before his article was run. I did like the possible reasons that the reporter gave for the man having been there, including the economic downturn, and the image he painted of Detroit’s abandoned warehouse problem.

    My main reason for running this photo is because it isn’t a gory photo and leaves a stronger image that way, and also because it literally leaves a cold feeling inside the person who sees it. I speak only of my personal reaction, but I doubt other people’s reactions would be much different. The fact that his body is mostly hidden is an intriguing factor and leaves a lot of questions that the reader would want answered.

  5. Andrew Robeson
    October 29, 2009 at 12:40 am

    If I were the editor of a paper I would be careful about running this photo on the front page. The photo is not gory, and I am not repulsed by it. However, I would have to ask myself, is this front page news without the photo? The picture is certainly odd, and strange, but I do not think it would bother people at their breakfast table. This photo is no where near as bad as photos that could be found in the days following 9/11 on front pages.

    I think the story that accompanies the photo does make it front page worthy. The story of a man being found frozen to death is not front page news. But, the ignored 911 calls, all the people who daily ignored the body, and the symbolism of Detroit’s decay make it a front page story.

    The photo is a story in itself, but I did not like how the story failed to answer simplistic questions the photo raises. If this is going to be front page news I want to know how the person died. I want to know how long he has been dead. I want to know how almost the entire body is encased in ice. I want to know who he/she was. None of this is in the story.

    If this happened in Detroit, it is front page news in Detroit. However, if this occurred in Detroit, it is not front page news in Lincoln. The reason this was front page news in Detroit was because of all the symbolism that could be found in the story. It also hit on a lot of issues, like homelessness, that specifically affect Detroit. For it to be front page news in Lincoln there would have to be some way to make people in Lincoln strongly relate to the issues raised by the story.

  6. Ruth Angelina
    October 29, 2009 at 10:04 am

    I would not run this picture on page one, but I will run it under local news. Not only it will offend the family of the deceased, but I don’t see the point of running the picture on page one because it is not that gory to me and I was not shocked by it.

    However, after reading the story on the picture, I changed my mind. I would definitely run it in the front page of The Detroit News if it was in Detroit and also the Lincoln Journal Star if it was in Lincoln because both places have the common problem discussed in the article: homelessness. I was expecting a story on the man’s life, how did he end up in such a horrible death. But instead, Charlie LeDuff took a different angle on this story and I think it is real clever of him to use this picture to address the widespread problem of homelessness that has been so neglected in Detroit. The story about how the homeless people left the frozen body sitting there for at least a month is very disturbing, but certainly need attention because how can anyone prefer living beside a corpse than in the homeless shelter? This proves the homeless shelter is really doing no good in protecting the homeless people.

    I see eye to eye with the columnist’s view on how the society should wake up and “smell the society rotting,” instead of complaining about the picture. However, I find the last part of the column very irrelevant. He should not have ranted his anger about Wall Street bailouts in his column about homelessness.

  7. Derek Brandt
    October 29, 2009 at 10:21 am

    At first glance, my reaction was that I definitely would not run that picture on the front page of a newspaper. I don’t like the idea of death being a focal point unless the death is of a well-known figure. Not to mention the picture is less than flattering and may be embarassing to family members or friends.

    But after reading the story and the circumstances, I think it could also be appropriate to run the picture in the Detroit News. The picture doesnt so much represent the man frozen in ice as much as it seemed to be a bit of a profile of the city. The picture told a story of the poor, the addicted, and the wandering. The article ended up sheding light on some of the cities less-fortunate and their viewpoints. Some of them saw it as normal, and if not normal, they saw this man frozen in ice as nothing to get the authorities involved in. They did not want to bring anything upon themselves when not necissary. What good would reporting this man have done to the already distraught?

    If this story or picture ran in the Lincoln Journal Star, I think it would be because it is an interesting story. I don’t think the story serves much relevant purpose in Nebraska, but it is unusual, and that sort of story does well anywhere.

    I also enjoyed the columnist’s view on the story. He compared the man trapped in the ice to himself. It could have been him. I liked how it shed light on the shadier parts of the city including the homeless and downtrodden.

  8. Steven Cain
    October 29, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Initially after seeing this picture I would not have published it. Although it would be intriguing to readers it seems very gruesome, especially for front-page publication.

    After reading the story paired with the photo I can understand their choice to publish it. The photo brings a realism to the harsh reality in Detroit. However, I’m still not convinced that a photo this gruesome should be on the front page of a newspaper. I think I would have put this photo on the inside of the newspaper, but not on the cover. There is certainly a strong message with the photo, but I don’t think it is something that people would want to look at during the casual reading of the front page.

    I would follow the same guidelines with a Lincoln paper if the situation happened in Lincoln. There is certainly a big homelessness problem in the city and it needs to be brought to the public’s attention. However, I don’t think the shock tactic of publishing this as a front-page photo is appropriate for almost any situation.

  9. Sara Nelson
    October 29, 2009 at 10:55 am

    My first reaction was that I would not run the photo. It is disturbing and could be hurtful to the family of the deceased, once the person was identified. However, after reading the story I think that the photograph adds emotion, grabs the reader’s attention and alerts the public about this overwhelming problem in Detroit. I think that it is an issue that public should be aware of, and the photo appropriately captures the severity of the problem. I am not sure that I would run the photo0 on Page 1 of the Detroit News, for the sake of the “Cheerio factor” and out of respect for the family. An editor needs to be sensitive to not make their readers physically ill from reading Page 1 of a newspaper. I would not run the photo in the Lincoln Journal Star because it is not a local story and there is not as much to gain from running the photo in a different state, other than making readers cringe.
    I agree with Lessenberry that the photo definitely draws attention to the homeless population of Detroit and that this is not an unusual outcome for those homeless. I also found it intriguing how Lessenberry said, “it could have been me.” Reinforcing that the photo helps make the story more personal to citizens of Detroit, having them make personal connections with this “bumsicle.”

  10. Chelsea Coli
    October 29, 2009 at 10:59 am

    I would run this photo on page one of the Detroit News but not on the front page of the Lincoln Journal Star. I think it would act as an eye-opener to the public, or at least I hope it would. The story behind the building definitely adds irony and makes the story even sadder. I know it may not be nice for the family to see his picture on the front page but at the same time you can’t identify him from his picture. A reader would have to actually read the story to find out who it is, and not everyone is going to do that. It is not close enough to Lincoln to run it on the front page. I would put it on the inside of the Lincoln Journal Star because it’s still a very unusual story, but the readers wouldn’t have the same knowledge about the building and the city.

    The articles didn’t change my opinion at all. If anything, they strengthened it. Detroit needs a morality makeover and I think the photo would help. I was shocked to find out how many people saw the body and didn’t call the cops and how many 911 calls were ignored. Why is a newspaper expected to show decency to the family by not running the picture on the front page when the police don’t even care to remove it from the ice? In response to the column, I think that it was entertaining and I can see where he’s coming from where he says that it could have been him. However, I felt like he got a little off topic and carried away toward the end of the article.

  11. Jared Hanner
    October 29, 2009 at 11:14 am

    I wouldn’t run that photo in the Lincoln Journal Star but I can’t say what my decision would be for the Detroit News. However, I would still make that photo available, perhaps online for those who did really want to see it, and then only under a special, marked section of the cite.
    After reading the story about the shot, I think I would probably run it in Detroit, just to show what the state of the city is doing to people. When you have to call the police several times to get a response to something like this, it’s a sign that something needs to change. This photo could make people take that first step toward caring more about others, or make those police that the reporter talked to a little less apathetic. I think that was what the second article was getting at, when it called running the photo a public service. Without that photo, no one would have to reevaluate the way they looked at the homeless, much less each other.

  12. Alia Conley
    October 29, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Looking at the picture, I would not run it on the front page, but possibly on an inside page. When I saw the legs sticking out of the ice, the thought of there being a body under a foot or more of ice gave me the chills. It was like something out of a horror movie. I think parents would not want this picture to be on the front page because their young children might see it and wonder about bad things. Also, I think people who say they would run the photo to sell papers is just exploiting what happened to this man for money.

    I think the story written about the dead body was intriguing and eye opening, especially about the homeless and the vacant warehouses around Detroit. However, again, I would not run the photo. There were a couple other photos on the Web site, one of a homeless man tending a fire and of the firefighters extracting the dead body from the ice. The last one would be a better picture to run, because it shows action, although the feet can still be seen. I would make sure my photographer took pictures of the firefighters doing their work without the feet being shown. Then, readers can get an idea of what the dirty, trash-ridden warehouse was like, but not see the shocking image of the feet.

    I enjoyed reading Jack Lessenberry’s column, but although he brought up some interesting points, he took the subject matter too far. It didn’t make sense to me to relate the dead homeless body to John Thain, the former chairman of Merrill Lynch. I understand Lessenberry’s point that running the photo was a service to the public. “This is reality, people; time to wake up and smell your society rotting.” However, this isn’t necessarily the public’s problem. It’s the police who didn’t quickly respond to the 911 calls, and the millionaire’s fault for having a dirty, abandoned building open for people to walk into and possibly get hurt. Ordinary people reading the newspaper shouldn’t be blamed for the problems that caused this. Still, after reading these articles, I would not run this photo on the front page.

  13. Andrew Lamberson
    October 29, 2009 at 11:59 am

    I would run this photo on the front page of the Detroit News. This photo, but more importantly, the events leading up to this photo, show how awful times have gotten in the city of Detroit.
    This photo embodies a cry for help from not only the homeless, but people who have lost their jobs and anyone else who has fell on hard times in the city.
    I’m glad both the story and the column mentioned how the cops beat around the bush to even come and investigate the body.
    In my mind, this was a rock bottom moment for the city, but it needed to happen. Sure, the man in the ice has a family and it would be painful for them to see him dead on the front page of a newspaper, but he has become the poster-child for the decay of the city.
    In photography classes, we’re told what images are too graphic to put on the front page, and this one is not so. The image doesn’t show the man’s face or any exposed flesh of that matter; it’s just two feet sticking out of the ice.
    Sometimes people need to see how bad it really is to fully understand what’s going on. I didn’t think the Gulf War in the early 1990s was too violent until I saw the photos that didn’t make it to the newspapers; these were very horrific.

    If this happened in Lincoln, and Lincoln was going through the same economic downturn has Detroit, than I would definitely have to run this photo on the cover of the Lincoln Journal Star. It seems like a disservice not to.

  14. Alain Nguyen
    October 29, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    No, I would not run this picture and no, I would not put it on page 1.
    After reading the story, my decision has change and I would run this picture. I would also run it on page 1, especially if it was The Detroit news. However though, if it were the Lincoln Journal Star, I would not put it on the front page because although it is an interesting story, the picture might turn off people. There is just something disturbing about the picture. Now, on the other hand, like I said, I would put it on page 1 of The Detroit News because from what it seems, this is a pressing matter in that community and it needs to be brought into light and people need to know about it.

    I really like the columnist views on the picture and how she tied that to the bigger picture of what’s going on in American society right now. I agree with her when she said running that picture was a public service, and the newspaper should get some kind of an award for it. She also states that this is “reality, people; time to wake up and smell your society rotting. We’ve been living, most of us, in a world that has allowed us to mostly insulate ourselves from reality.”

  15. Kevin Zelaya
    October 29, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    The photo is definitely shocking at first glance but I don’t believe it is offensive enough because it lacks graphic details, to prevent it from being run on page 1. Yes, I would run it on the front page of the Detroit paper because I agree with what the columnist said about it being a public service to run the photo. It would involve a lot more debate and thinking to figure out if I would run the picture on the front page of the Lincoln Journal Star, since it is a smaller newspaper with a much more conservative audience not as desensitized to death as Detroit. Maybe I wouldn’t run it on the front page of the Journal Star, it might be too controversial.

    The columnist brought up a lot of interesting points, like whether or not the police dragged their feet in attending to the frozen body. Keeping the city safe and free from dead corpses is a matter of public concern, so this point was very salient. He also noted some background about the lot where the body was found and how the billionaire who owns the land has a history of letting prime real estate go to waste, which leads to squatting by the homeless. Knowing this is also a matter of public concern and maybe the billionaire owner should be held accountable.

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