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Would you run this picture, AM class

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  1. Sarah Morris
    March 25, 2010 at 9:25 am

    As I looked at this picture, my stomach immediately dropped. If it was what I thought it was, the picture was not a pretty sight to see. However, before I read the story to go along with it, I decided that I would run the story. The photo does not show a face or anything that would dismantle the persons reputation. It is still a graphic image but it gets the point across. After reading the story I decided that I would still run the photo. It brings the story together and really leaves an impact on the reader. There are severe issues in the world that many turn their heads away from. This story and image allow the readers and the audience to face the facts.

  2. Emily Giller
    March 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    I have to admit, when I saw the picture I was a little disturbed by it. However, I would still run this picture in the paper. Although it is a disturbing picture, it is a visual that goes along with the story very nicely. After reading the story I still stick by my decision to publish the picture. I think the Detroit News made the right decision to publish it on the front page because you can’t see the man’s face, there’s no blood, and the writer doesn’t identify the man. Also, it’s important for people in Detroit to be informed about what’s going on around them. If I was working for the Lincoln Journal Star, however, I would not run the story or the picture on the front page because it doesn’t pertain to any of its readers. Why would people in Lincoln care about a Detroit man found in a Detroit warehouse?
    I really liked the alternative column. I thought the writer had a lot of good points. The part I liked the best was when he or she said that it was interesting to hear people’s reactions to the picture because so many people were disgusted by it. The writer says that people need to leave their sheltered lives and deal with reality. It’s not uncommon to find a dead body in a big city. I think that all the writer’s comments on this picture led to the ultimate point that this picture isn’t hurting anyone, it’s actually helping people in Detroit understand the world around them.

  3. Rhiannon
    March 27, 2010 at 9:54 am

    My initial instinct was not to run that photo on the front page. I’m not sure why, but my gut said “bad idea!” I obey my gut instinct.

    So I was relieved when I read the story and found that my gut was right. If it were up to me that piece would have been cut. It’s an awful story. Had the story been the angle of the homeless the entire time, I wouldn’t have an issue with it. However, they treated the subject like dirt. They joked about it! This is unacceptable. That person has a family and friends who cared about him. That’s disobeying the cardinal credo of “comforting the afflicted.” Again, had the story been more focused on the homeless problem in Detroit, I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with it. What this newspaper did wasn’t cool. It wasn’t edgy. It was cruel.

    I did like reading the columnist’s opinion. It could have been me, the columnist thought and that small sentence had more empathy than the entire Detroit piece. He actually names the homeless person. He discusses issues of homelessness and the economic gap between the rich and the poor. This piece is in much better taste. If I was the editor I would have no issue in running that one.

  4. Dan Hoppen
    March 28, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    If I were the editor of this newspaper, I think I would have run the photo. Yes, it is disturbing, and yes, that is someone’s family member. But the fact that you can’t see his face or any other distinguishing features about him makes it OK in my mind. No one could open the newspaper and be horrified by the sight of seeing his or her family member frozen in ice. It’s impossible to tell who the person is from the picture.

    After reading the story, I want to run the photo even more. It fits very well with the story and is important for the reader to understand what’s going on. I’m not sure if I would run it on the front page of the paper, but I would have no problem putting it on the front of a section (such as the equivalent of the “Midlands” section of the Omaha World-Herald). I would not run this photo or story in the Journal Star, however. It’s important to the people of Detroit, especially with how high its unemployment rate is, but to me, the story isn’t important enough to people in Lincoln to run a picture that could potentially offend a lot of people.

    I thought the column provided an interesting take: the fact that the man in the ice could’ve been anyone. But when he identified the man, I think that’s when you stop running the picture and talking about it. There is a family for this man, and it is now grieving the loss of a member, a loss that was unlikely quick and painless. Once the identity of the man was learned, I think that’s time to stop bringing it up and give the family some time to grieve.

  5. Ryan Evans
    March 29, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    When I first looked at the photograph of the feet of a corpse sticking up out of the ice that entombed the rest of the body, I figured that I would choose not to run the photo, if I was the editor. It is obviously a shocking image and I initially supposed that the person was a murder victim, inclining me to not want to run the photo due to its harshness.
    After reading Charlie LeDuff’s story that accompanied the photo in The Detroit News, I had a change of heart because he writes not so much about the corpse as a victim, but about the perils of living in Detroit. The story described how numerous people took sight of the feet sticking out of the ice in the abandoned warehouse, yet chose to do nothing about it. It also pointed out the inefficiencies of Detroit’s law enforcement in responding to the matter once it was called in. The story even served to shed light on the shortcomings of the city’s school system and exposed the owner of the building the body was found in as a wealthy magnate who specializes in decrepit eyesores.
    If I was the editor of The Detroit News, I would run this story on page one, photo and all. The image certainly draws attention to the story and works to reflect the mood of the piece and the city that is described in it. I would run the photo because I would want the readers to know the harsh realities that exist in the city.
    If this story came across the wire to me as an editor at The Lincoln Journal Star, I would probably not run the photo on page one. Because the story is not local, I probably would not want to run the risk of offending the mild-mannered mid-westerners reading the story if it is pointing out the shortfalls of a city that is hundreds of miles away.
    As can be seen, I agree with the point of view expressed by Jack Lessenberry in his reaction that ran on the Web site of the Metro Times. He pointed out that The Detroit News was doing a service by running the photograph, and I agree. I also liked how Lessenberry went on to describe, in more detail than The Detroit News article, the extent of the homeless problem in Detroit.

  6. Seanica
    March 29, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    As everyone else before me has stated, my gut instinct was “NO! Don’t run the photo.” The photo made me feel very uncomfortable in a sickening way, not as in “Oh, I don’t see this very often. Maybe I should be doing something that could possibly help prevent a situation like this.” As the editor of The Detroit News I wouldn’t run this picture and I definitely wouldn’t run it on Page 1.

    After reading the story that ran with the picture, I would actually run the photo. The story definitely changes my mind about the photo because it has important value to the story. If the story ran by itself, I would have a hard time picturing what it looked like and I would definitely be left with questions. By running the story and photo together, it gives the reader more knowledge about the situation and doesn’t leave questions. I still don’t think I would run it on the front page, but not because of how unsettling the photo is. I wouldn’t run it on Page 1 because I would expect there would be more news that would be more important to run on the first page. I might have it on page 2 or 3, though, or even on the front page of a different section. I don’t think I would put it on the front page of the Journal Star either because it definitely wouldn’t have as much significance to Lincoln citizens as it would to those in Detroit.

    I think the columnist’s view is very honest, true and eye-opening. It’s so awful that people, especially homeless people, didn’t care enough to report the body. They were just watching out for themselves and didn’t think they had enough time to report a dead body. It’s also terrible that the police didn’t seem to care enough to find the body and investigate what happened. The columnist made a good point of saying that the photo just showed people reality, which obviously people were oblivious to. I think most people would want others to notice and try and tell someone if they were in a block of ice, dead. There is a big world out there with things like this happening and people need to wake-up.

  7. Damien Croghan
    March 29, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    “As an editor, I would have not have ran the picture. This is because I think it’s disrespectful to the person who has passed away. The picture also seems like it would be used as a sensationalist way to sell newspapers instead of as a way to honor the dead. Yes, the picture is intriguing, but I think it crosses a line if it were published.”
    That’s what I said previous to reading the story attached with the photograph. My mind is completely changed.
    As an editor, I think it’s important to publish pictures that help visually complete a story. That is exactly what this picture does. You can describe a person, frozen in ice with only their legs sticking out, but the picture tells more than words.
    The picture serves as a metaphor for many of Detroit’s ongoing problems, such as homelessness and the proposed heartlessness of those who walked past this dead body without contacting the proper authorities. Continuing to read the story, you learn of yet another problem: the proper authorities don’t know how to handle the situation, and go through police bureaucracy to finally resolve the issue.
    The column published in the Metro Times continues to humanize the story, which I appreciated. To imagine that you could have been that person, frozen in ice for a month, and that people continued to play hockey or sleep near your corpse is appalling.
    As an editor, it’s important to know the context of the photograph before making a decision. At first, without knowing why this picture was being published, I was totally opposed to using it. But after understanding how it fits into the context of the story, I completely support using it for the sake of the article.

  8. DeShaun
    March 29, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    I would run this picture. I don’t think it shows anything too graphic. I would run it on the front page. Homelessness is a major issue in our country. This is such a unique image why wouldn’t you. It’s truthful and an eye opener to the public.
    After reading the Detroit News story I still would run the photo. The story adds reasons why I would run it. The photo leads to different issues facing Detroit. If the picture moved on the wire in Lincoln, I wouldn’t run it on the front page. The story isn’t local enough. I would possibly link it with a local story dealing with the same issue of homelessness. It isn’t in enough proximity of Lincoln.
    As for the Metro Times story, it didn’t sit well with me. The writer put a name to the body found in the ice. But then he starts to go off on a tangent. I think he loses the focus of the story. It’s not about the reporter or the police necessarily but more of the issue of homelessness and what is being done to help the people in dire need.

  9. B. Ayers
    March 29, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    My first instinct in this situation is to run the photo. This photo seems different to me. I look at it, and just like Jack Lessenberry I wonder who this person was, and how they came to meet their fate buried under two or three feet of ice, alone, in an abandoned elevator shaft. This picture raises a lot of questions and really keeps my attention.
    I do believe, however, that the story that ran with this picture did not cut the mustard and was not really deserving of such a powerful photo. I do not feel as if the story was specific enough to any of the problems that I see arising from a lack of surprise by the people who stumbled upon the protruding legs, or the police department’s failure to react and clean up the body.
    If I was the editor of the Journal Star, I would still publish this photo because I think it would do a good job of pulling readers in. The fact that nothing other than the man’s legs and feet can be seen creates a powerful photo that still keeps from offending a lot of readers. I would probably even run it on the front page. I just do not think that we are exposed to images like this in Lincoln everyday and running with a photo like this would capture a lot of attention, even of the story that it ran with was not as strong as I would have hoped.

  10. Jordan Minnick
    March 29, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    At first look, I came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t run this picture. It’s a dead body, and publishing it would be insensitive. After reading the story, though, you find that this is a homeless person. In the case that this person may not have had family, the offense wouldn’t applicable. But since assumptions should never be made, I would wait for any identification and go from there.

    There is a remarkable story behind this picture. You almost can’t have one without the other. This picture makes a statement about poverty in Detroit that a story couldn’t make on its own. Running the photo would bring the issue to light. My decision of not running the picture is changed after reading the Detroit News story. I was so stirred, and I’m not even from Detroit.

    A story of this magnitude deserves the front page. It’s a huge local issue. I don’t think I would run it in the Lincoln Journal Star, but I would in the Omaha World Herald where I think the issue of poverty and homelessness has higher pertinence.

    Statements made by the columnist of the Metro Times really hit it home. While I can agree that this is a beneficial “public service announcement,” I still see a price to pay in publishing this photo. ‘Johnnie’ had family. He could have been your forgotten cousin or uncle. I still see respects to pay in this regard; therefore I would not publish this photo on those grounds.

  11. Max Olson
    March 29, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    First off, I know a photographer will fight to the death every time to make sure this photo runs in the paper. From my experience, that’s just how they are. I can’t fault the photographer for that, it is a great photo.

    Before I read the story that accompanied the photo, I thought about the readers. I believe they’re the most important group to consider in these situations. If I’m the editor, I’ll put up with the phone calls from the outraged readers if I believe in the journalistic value and importance of the photo and its intent. A big pitfall with photos like these is that it’s easy to run a cool photo merely for the shock value, but doing so without minding the reader can cause lots of problems.

    I was mostly in support of running the photo before I read the story that went with it. After I read it, there’s no doubt in my mind it’s worth running if I’m an editor in Detroit. It’s a tremendous story, and you really can’t run one without the other. The fact that the frozen person is barely visible in the photo makes me less concerned that it will offend friends and relatives.

    If I’m an editor in Lincoln, I’d be curious to see if my peers (the other papers in the nation outside of Michigan) are running it. I don’t think I’d run that story if it came in the wire because it’s very specific to Detroit and a little hard to localize/make relevant for Lincolnites. But if there’s an AP story that goes with the photo, I’d run them both.

  12. Jackie Wiruth
    March 30, 2010 at 7:24 am

    At first I thought the picture was from a disaster of some kind and thought that I would run it. It would be a good way to display a disaster, because it shows the tragedy of a dead body without being too graphic. However after reading the story I’m not so sure that I would. It seems disrespectful. The events surrounding it are disrespectful enough. For instance, when the explores found him and continued their hockey game. It seems to me that if the picture were used to show a small part of the story, as with a disaster, then it would be okay. However, since it is the main focus the description is graphic enough without the picture. However, I also understood the columnists point of view. The picture would get the public’s attention much more than a simple story. It is something that the public should be aware of. It is a difficult decision. I think that since only his feet are showing I would run it.

    If I were the Detroit editor I would run it on the front page, with the most respectful headline possible. I would not run it on the front page if I were the Lincoln editor, however. The story is very specific to Detroit. It is definitely a story that should be run, but in Lincoln I would not run it on the front page.

    As I said earlier, I understood the columnists point of view, but I thought his ton of voice was rather disrespectful. I don’t think the part about bumsicles was need. That is extremely disrespectful.

  13. Tom Grant
    March 30, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    At first in looking at the picture I was very unsure if I would personally run it or not. The photo is very emotionally grabbing. It’s one of those things that are hard to look at, but even harder to turn away from. From the standpoint of the article accompanying it, I can certainly understand why they decided to run it. The story itself is quite disturbing for varying reasons. Why no one reported the body right away and then why the police why it took the police two days and multiple phone calls to recover the body is unexplainable. With that part of the story now known, I do understand why the newspaper would run the photo. It not only grabs the reader’s attention like I previously mentioned, but given the background, it becomes even more emotion grabbing. As for whether I would run the story and photo in a Lincoln newspaper; the answer is no. I feel like the story and picture, being that it occurred in Detroit, are a good fit and acceptable in that city’s newspaper but it is not something I would run as a main story with such a controversial picture in a city where it did not happen. The story itself is noteworthy and worthy of being printed but not above the fold on the front page accompanied with that photo. I also can understand why some people would be disturbed and against showing the photo. It is literally showing a dead body and is more than likely someone’s family member. The only thing that would ever hold me back from the running the picture is a family member and their wishes. If they asked me to not run the photo, I would do as they asked. I do not think it is the place of an editor to tell a family member their dead relative’s photo is out of their control in the print. Overall, I agree with the decision to run the photo in Detroit. I think it is very moving given the story and background but I would not run it anywhere else because it is not near as relevant.

  14. Kristin Bauer
    March 30, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    During Visual Literacy 2, my class discussed a picture that was published following the attacks on the World Trade Centers. The photograph in question showed a man free falling from one of the towers. The photograph in our blog reminds me of the photograph that was published after the attacks on September 11th.

    Like many other students, my initial opinion was that, if I were an editor, I would not publish the picture. Publishing the photograph seems insincere, grotesque, and may be horrifying to readers. I try to imagine if I were part of this man’s family. I would not want this photograph to be published for the world to see. Quite honestly, I wouldn’t even want to see this. It seems like kicking someone while they are down. Can you imagine discovering that your brother, son or grandson is dead by reading an article on the front page of The Detroit News with a picture of his dead body?

    After I read the articles, I realized that this photograph represents more than just a lost life. This photograph illustrates what millions of people in the United States face daily. The first article says the following: “There are at least 19,000 homeless people in Detroit, by some estimates. Put another way, more than 1 in 50 people here are homeless.” This picture shows the reality of our situation. It illustrates that there are people freezing to death because of the state of poverty that exists today. After I read the two articles, especially the second one, I decided that running the picture would be the most beneficial thing to do. After all, the photo has no defining features of the man who is pictured. The photograph only shows the man’s feet. Though it feels slightly insensitive for me to say, I think it would be best to show readers the grim reality. It’s our duty as journalists.

    To fully answer your questions: I would still run the photograph if it were in Lincoln, and I think the second columnist was right in most of the things he said. I agree that “running that picture was a public service.” It is our job to report the news: the good, the bad and the ugly.

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