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Would you run this picture, PM class

If you’re in the PM class, your comments go here.

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  1. Paige Yowell
    March 29, 2010 at 10:32 am

    When I first saw the picture I thought it was disturbing, but I’ve seen worse. I honestly couldn’t really tell what was in it. However, when I read the story, I was really turned off. I might have run the picture, but definitely not with that story. The story lacked any emotion about the situation, which kind of bothered me. It treated this person’s dead body as some oddity that would appear on “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!” What about this man’s family? What if that was your brother or your father?

    I agree with the columnist that “this is reality” and the picture serves as a wake-up call. But as for the newspaper deserving an award, I really don’t think so. I think they could have handled the story in much more respectful way. Even just running this photo by itself with a short caption would have been fine and still have had a huge emotional impact. I thought the story lacked any real focus. It made this body out to be a freak occurrence and a spectacle because it was encased in ice, instead of respecting this person’s life. Even if the story had more focus on the homeless and/or crime problem in Detroit and used this photo and story as a side-piece to portray the issue, I would have liked it a lot more.

    Also, the word “bumcicle” really grossed me out, and it grossed me out that journalists would use this term.

  2. Darcie Samuelson
    March 29, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    At first glance this picture appeared to be a fake. But upon further inspection I found that it was real. I immediately wanted to know who this person was, what happened and why. This is why I think it was a great idea to put it on the front page. This is the kind of picture that grabs a reader’s attention and makes them curious. This picture would also shock the public.
    After reading the story that went with the picture I supported putting it on the front page even more. It is a disturbing picture and may not sit well with everyone but this picture makes an important point. Charlie LeDuff uses this tragic story of the body to show people the real problems with their city. He makes it a point to point out that no one even called about the body and the police didn’t seem to care much either. LeDuff goes on to tell about the condition of the building and how like so many other abandon warehouses it is home to some of the 19,000 homeless people of Detroit.
    If I were editor in Lincoln and this story and picture were wired to me I think I would also put it on the front page but not play it as big as Detroit. Lincoln does have homeless people but the amount is not as great as Detroit. There is not a problem usually with these people squatting in abandon buildings.
    I agree with what the columnist wrote about the picture and the story. I also agree with him that the picture should be a wakeup call to all of the people of Detroit and surrounding areas. He points out the delayed reaction of the police to the situation. He also goes after some of the chief executive officers who received federal bailout money and how he does not like that they got a free pass when so many other Americans are struggling.

  3. Courtney Smith
    March 29, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    When I first saw the photo of the man’s legs sticking out of the ice, I wasn’t even sure what the photo was of. Once I figured out what the photo was showing, I thought it was kind of gruesome. I do believe that it’s a controversial picture, but I think that I would run the photo. It is a great attention-grabbing photo; once I figured out what it was of, I wanted to know who the person was and what had happened, so I was intrigued enough to read the article.

    After reading the story that accompanied the photo, I still think that I would run the photo. In the beginning of the article, I felt that the author was being a big crude about the man’s death. But the story made a very important point about homelessness in Detroit and I think the photo is a good one to peak the audience’s interest in the story. I would run it on the front page of The Detroit News, because the article speaks to the people of Detroit. I would run the story if I were an editor in Lincoln, but I wouldn’t put it on the front page because it wouldn’t have as much impact.

    I agree with Jack Lessenberry’s point of view. Lessenberry referred to the act of running the picture as an act of public service, sending out a wake-up call to the people of Detroit. I believe that the picture is a good way to shock people into realizing there is a problem.

  4. Alexis See Tho
    March 30, 2010 at 8:54 am

    I knew I would run the photo when I looked at it. The photo didn’t seem gruesome to me and I chose to run it because it didn’t show the face of the victim, which made it less horrid. I think this photo is perfectly fine and the reason it sparked discussion as to whether to run it is because it was played on the front page of Detroit News.

    The photo worked for me because when an acquaintance told me two days ago about the slums around Detroit and its government’s effort in trying to demolish many abandoned buildings, I couldn’t fathom the seriousness of the issue. With this photo together with the article, I could understand the issue at hand better.

    Since the photo doesn’t show the victim’s face, the victim or his family’s reputation would not be affected. Hence I think it is ethical to run it. Also, what Jack Lessenberry said “…it could have been me,” is exactly what the photo should convey to many others who saw it. Because it could have been any regular Joe or Jane on the street, the Detroit community as a whole should be more serious when looking at this problem of slums and homelessness.

    I also agree with Lessenberry when he said that running the photo is like a public service and that this is reality.

  5. patrick breen
    March 30, 2010 at 10:42 am

    It isn’t even a question in my mind. If you’re an editor, you run that photo. That’s all that needs to be said.

    “What I thought, when I saw the now-famous picture in The Detroit News, was that, apart from the white socks, it could have been me,” Jack Lessenberry said of the photo. That’s the feeling you want a reader to get from it. Yes, the photo is sad and depressing. It shows the tragedy that is death. But just like Lessenberry said, it could be him. It could be you. It could be anybody. It serves as a warning for a life of drugs that leads people down a path to destruction.

    As a photographer, I would always fight for a good photo to be run. Whether it had included an identifying mark that could be recognized like a face or certain clothing, if the photo draws reader attention to an issue, it needs to be shared.

    In high school I took a photo of an n-word spray painted on a satellite dish on the front lawn of the school. The week prior, racial tensions had been raised when a self-proclaimed “nazi” struck a black student in the cafeteria. The Register, my high school newspaper, was doing an in-depth piece on present day racial relations in a school of 2,500 kids. Our paper was censored and prior restraint was trying to be imposed. Our adviser fought it and we eventually had our rights back, but our adviser left after that year to a school where, as my professor liked to say, “journalistic rights are not infringed and then raped.”

    Photos bring issues to people’s attentions. They are extremely important to this medium in transition and not running the photo of the frozen man would mean less people read the stories. Which is something the writer, editor and reader wouldn’t like.

    It is important to take the feelings of the family into consideration, and its something that photo professor Bruce Thorson has taught us. But he also taught us the power of a photograph. A photo can change the way people perceive things, and even this year, AP supplied a photo of a dying American Soldier which caused a large controversy. A famous war photographer, James Nachtwey once said, “I take photos of these tragedies so that someday I won’t have a job. Someday they won’t need me. Someday there won’t be wars.”

    All reasoning points to running the photograph. The photographer wants his best photo run. The writer wants more readers to appreciate his story and the editor wants more readership so that he or she can keep their job.

  6. Kyle Dump
    March 30, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Prior to reading the story accompanying the photo I had to say no. In my book, photos like this one should only really be used to make a point. If the only point is to freak out or disturb readers (and without knowing what the story was I had to assume it was) well, that’s just not OK with me.
    However, after reading the story I have to say. Throw this thing on the front page—make it the entire front page, heck, put it on every single page in the paper. And, if I were the editor of the Lincoln Journal Star, I’d make sure it was in my paper.
    This story, coupled with the photo, is heartbreaking and powerful. It sheds light on shady real-estate practices in the city, homelessness, a seeming loss of humanity in normal people, and another side to the decline of the once great Detroit.
    As I established earlier on, I normally hate running pictures like this. Ninety percent of the time they’re only run to sell papers and drop jaws, but this, this is tragic and necessary. This is what life is becoming, and if it disturbs people, then good. It’s disturbing.
    When it comes down to it, this is a powerful photo coupled with a powerful story and an important message.
    I say run it, and run it big.

  7. Magie Wieneke
    March 30, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Initial thoughts when I see this image are that I would not run that photo, not on page one or even snuck in a side layout. We don’t know who the person is or if they have family or anything other than they met their misfortune in a rather sad end. It is a hard image to stomach and while in the second article the reporter made a good point that the people of Detroit need to wake up and see what is going on in their own town it is still hard to say it isn’t still over that line.

    After reading the first article my opinion stays the same. On top of the fact that the story for me just seems really put together in an odd manor. I think I would have liked its layout better had the start of the article been about the homeless in Detroit and the high number the city associates with. Had it started out on that beat and had the story of the man in ice that nobody bothered to inquire about until much later I think it would have worked better for me. Still I wouldn’t run the photo though, the reporter gives a really detailed description that you can envision what he is describing to you. His words are just as effective as the image I believe so I still wouldn’t feel the need to run the photo.

    The last piece though does bring up a good point in that hiding what is going on in the city doesn’t help to educate the people who choose to turn a blind eye or actually have no idea. I admire the reporters want to not sugarcoat things and make the problems of the city known because he is right that nobody should hide behind a facade and money. If the original piece was more focused on the literal decay of the city and low levels some parts have reached than I could possibly consider running the photo more. And at this stage we knew the body’s identity and that he had a family, after getting the families permission and explaining it was not to exploit him but to show that some things needs to be addressed and worked on I would feel better with running the photo.

  8. Shea Carlson
    March 30, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    At first glance I would not run the picture on the front page because I personally don’t enjoy looking at it, so I don’t believe my readers would like to see it. I definitely would not run it on page 1.
    After reading the first story I have changed my mind because of the contents of the article. I think the picture shows the disparity in Detroit. After reading the article it was apparent that there are certain parts of town that the authorities just do not care about and have almost become the symbols of the once great city. I do not believe I’d run the picture in Lincoln because it does not have the same effect that it would in Detroit. I might run the story later on in the paper but not on the front page, certainly not with the picture. I do enjoy Lessenberry’s piece about the picture and the state of Detroit. I think it is very important that the citizens of that city realize what is happening around them, and that it is a serious problem.

  9. Lauren Vuchetich
    March 30, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    My first impression of the photo is to run it. It’s a powerful image that tells a story. If the person were instantly recognizable that may change my mind out of respect for those who may be affected by it such as family and friends. As an editor I would run this on the front page of the Detroit News.

    After reading the story I feel it is even more important to run the image with it. It strongly supports and captures the story within an image successfully. I may not run it on the front page of the Journal Star because that may just being playing with pathos too much for my taste, but I would definitely run the story and image somewhere in the paper.

    I agree with Jack Lessenberry’s column completely; this photo is a public service. It is a newspaper’s job to deliver the news and the truth about a community.

  10. Rikki G.
    March 30, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    I didn’t know what the picture was at first glance. It looked like the person was either stuck in tar or some of the filthiest ice I’ve ever seen. When I finally wrapped my head around the photo the resounding question in my head was, “How?” What circumstances would allow a body to be stationary so long that freeze in a block of ice? Was it homicide or accident? Were drugs and/or alcohol involved?

    It reminded me of something that happened in my hometown a few years back. A 20-year-old was drunk and walking around outside in the winter (never a good idea in Minnesota) and slipped on some ice. He hit his head, was knocked out and froze to death on the curb.

    The picture is equal parts terrifying and fascinating, it leaves a viewer stunned and asking questions. Should the paper have run the photo? Absolutely. As was stated in the column, the photo shows reality: a disturbing reality. I like to solve these situations by asking myself a simple question. Would I fully understand the story without the photo? In this case, I wouldn’t.

  11. Dylan Guenther
    March 30, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    I don’t feel that publishing pictures of a dead people is appropriate most of the time. The only time you should use pictures like this is to capture the audience in a way that you can’t do using any other photos. If i was the editor, I definitely would not run this picture on the front page though. I might not run it at all.

    After reading the story, I decided that I would probably run the photo on the front page only if it was the Detroit News. I probably would not run the photo if it just came over the wire in Lincoln. The news of a frozen person doesn’t affect us as much as it does someone in Detroit. I would not run the picture on the front page of the Journal Star.

    I like the columnists views for the most part. i especially like when he wrote “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”. He has a point, this is the reality of the situation in Detroit and a lot of other places with their homeless. We love to live our lives without thinking about the terrible situations some other people are in. Running this picture in Detroit was essential to open up some of the public’s eyes about the severity of the situation. No matter how graphic.

  12. Brett Bedel
    March 30, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    When I first saw the photo, I instantly said no. Then I read the story, and honestly it broke my heart. To have people admit that they didn’t contact anyone to help this person really bothered me, and when the reporter had to call 911 multiple times to get someone out to the scene, well that’s just not right. Then I read the columnists view. I’ve never lived in Detroit or even driven there, but from what I’ve heard and after reading this column, it seems like there are multiple incidents like this all over the city. People die and no one does anything about it. Both the article and column really opened my eyes to the hard times people are going through. I’ve read about it and seen it on tv, but haven’t actually experienced “hard times” myself. I think I’ve been oblivious to how bad things really are in this country because I’m just in college. My problems are worrying over tests, paying rent and feeding my cat. To many people in this country they don’t go to school to worry about tests and they don’t have a place to live to worry about paying rent.

    After reading the story and the column I would definitely run the photo. It is doing this country a service; being blunt about what is actually happening right now. It’s very unfortunate some of the conditions people have been living in or are forced to live in because they can’t find a job. It brought awareness to me, someone who has heard about it, but never actually seen it. I think this story and this photo only helped this country and it made more people see the reality of the conditions people are dealing with right now.

  13. Chiron Hunt
    March 30, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Would you run this picture? Would you run it on Page 1 if you were the editor of The Detroit News? Yes, that is a real dead body and a real person’s legs sticking out of the ice.
    I would run this picture and I would run it to the fullest because it’s important to know who’s around you. Even though the guy was a homeless drug addict who died in a run down building he is still somebody’s relative. That building was his home. Death is important no matter who you are and the reason why he died is the number one reason why most homeless people are homeless. Maybe the government will see this photo and decide to crack down on drug availability and alcohol availability.
    Now that you’ve made the decision, read the story that ran with this picture. Is your decision the same? Does the story change your mind?
    No the story does not change my mind at all. My decision is the same because he is human and death is important.
    Would you run it on the front page of The Detroit News?
    Yes. I would run it on the front page because I like to believe that the city I live in is happy and that people are being taken good care of around me. When that picture is seen by the thousands of eyes in the city it will be known how serious drug addiction is.
    What if it moved on the wire with the story and you were the editor in Lincoln? Would you run it on the front page of the Journal Star?
    Yes. I would because this guy was homeless. That means his family could be anywhere. Somebody could be searching for him and wants to know if he is dead or alive. This story being ran may give them a peace of mind.

  14. Reed Samson
    March 30, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    From an editor’s point of view, I would most definitely run a photograph as gripping as this one. However, I understand completely the reasoning behind not running the picture. Fortunately, I haven’t had to view a family member of my own buried to the ankles in disgusting ice, but I would be upset, to say the least, with a newspaper that ran it.

    After soaking in the harsh reality that the picture portrays, I began to read the article. I expected a completely different story to go with the picture, but the story behind this “bumsicle” evoked the same emotions as the picture did. The disturbing reality of how reluctant people were to report this man was very disturbing. I was in disbelief when the story described the group of people playing hockey that discovered the body continued to play the game around him after the discovery.

    The photograph, coupled with the story, makes such a compelling and tragic story that I say run it. Regardless of being the editor of the Journal Star or a major Detroit newspaper run the picture and story.

  15. Nick French
    March 30, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    I would run this photograph for a number or reasons. First, it’s an aesthetically well-shot picture which says more than a reporter ever could in words, and that’s evident in the article written next to it.

    Also, the man isn’t recognizable, and even it he was, there probably aren’t many who care enough for him to be offended. The article mentioned that fellow bums who should be concerned knew about the body for days and let it lie before it was discovered.

    Ultimately, this photograph shouldn’t be a question for editors in the newsroom. It’s reality, and it’s offensive reach is quite low.

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