Friday, September 01, 2006

Tragic car crash

I have taken a call and received an e-mail on the story we wrote on the fatal wreck on U.S. 74 yesterday. Both the caller and writer used the word "cold" to describe our story, which is not a complaint I'm used to hearing.

No matter how you slice it, the wreck was tragic. A woman died and two teenagers were involved along with three other cars and people. It's not clear whether the wreck was simply weather-related or someone was to blame. Either way, it will remain a tragedy.

Anyway, the caller who was upset said she felt the breakout box describing who was involved in the wreck and the cutline which described the picture should have been left out. I'm not sure how to respond to either. They were both basic information about the story to help readers understand who was involved. The writer said the story was insensitive to the family of the victim. I'm really struggling to figure out how that was the case.

Regarding the picture, we chose it very carefully. While TV ran pictures of the victim's car with a sheet over it, we chose a much milder picture, not even of the victim's car.

Our story was "by the book," which is how readers often complain that we SHOULD write stories, rather than making them overly flowery or sensational.

All of this is to say: Can you help me understand why people are upset with this story? My only real thought is that it's so tragic on so many levels that we are simply the recipient of misplaced anger and sadness. I can handle that. But if you know of or see ways we could have presented the story better, I'm very much interested in that feedback.

9 comments:

nccajunlady said...

There is no good way to report a story with an tragic ending. All you can do is report the facts without adding to them. I see nothing wrong with the story as it was done. It was informative without being judgemental.
You will never be able to please everyone, no matter what you do.

MCM said...

I agree with nccajunlady in thatyou covered the facts. The facts are what they are. I hope that you will follow this story and report on the findings of law enforcement, charges if any and a final court desposition.

Anonymous said...

I think it's odd that some local residents think an automobile accident is such big news. It was an unfortunate incident but not "Headline" news worthy. Thoughts and prayers to those involved in the crash. Shame on Shelby Headline News for their insensitive video footage!

gnl134 said...

Skip, You know as well as I do that there is no pleasing everybody. The story of the accident was covered in a very appropriate manner. If you had not ran the story, people would yell that it was a cover up by the Star and the police, you do run it and people still complain. What do I say, let them. The Star is in the business of reporting the news and I think that most always the Star does a great job at reporting the news. Not all folks are interested in the same types of stories. Keep up the good work!

Paige said...

I am always pleased with the professionalism I see with regards to the Star's reporting.

If I had to question anything or call something in the report "insensitive," the only thing that I would say would be the use of the word, "bounced" to describe the victim's collision with the parked vehicle. It was stated, "Mrs. Whetstine first bounced..." The visual here is not one of one vehicle striking the other.

Semantics, I know, but it does give a visual that different wording could've avoided. "Mrs. Whetstine's car first bounced..."

This is not intended as a criticism, just a personal insight.

Keep up the good work!

Skip Foster said...

Thanks for that comment on "bounced." I hadn't thought of that, but now that you mention it, I see your point.

Thanks.

Joe said...

Skip, I think the consensus with most folks will be "you cannot please everyone all of the time".
I do not know any of the people involved in the crash. Sometimes it can make a difference when you DO know someone in a situation like this. Emotions almost naturally come into play.

But, I have to say that even if I DID have a personal connection to this story, that I still would have to say that the story was reported factually and fairly in the Star.

This story is
definitely news. There is no getting around that. The Star would have been remiss by not reporting or under-reporting it.

My prayers are with those involved and with their families. And I commend you for doing your best to diligently and fairly report local news and for listening to your readers both here and on the message board.

Joe

Anonymous said...

I didn't see anything wrong with the way it was presented. I would however like to see you showcase Tim Moore's door to door activities the way you have Betsy Fonvielle. But no, your wreck coverage was milder than other outlets I saw.

Anonymous said...

Skip....the problem I had with the story was how you published the teenagers name, age, where the go to school, what grade they are in, and where they live....as a parent I just felt that all that information was ridiculous...The public doesn't need to know any of that stuff. I feel that the message would have had the same result with just saying two teenage girls ages 17 and 15 from shelby were involed.....I think that minors names and address shouldn't be published.