I am writing as a family member of one of the victims in the recent tragedy on Austin Avenue. This letter is in no way an official representation of my family as a whole, but rather of me as an individual, although many in my family echo my sentiments.
I was very disheartened by some of the choices you allowed in the coverage of this event. In particular, I am horrified at the decision to publish the dying words of a child. This was distasteful, heartless, and it did not take into consideration the effects on an already devastated family. I am very conscious of the business aspect of journalism, however, I do not believe that this type of headline and content was at all necessary to increase the sales of that particular issue. A story of that magnitude would sell itself. The headline served to pour salt in a wound, and I personally found it offensive and in poor taste.
I was also disappointed in the slant that the story took in its earliest inception. I do not know why the incident at Clancy's was mentioned, considering it was highly irrelevant to the nature of this tragedy. In your position, I would think I am safe to assume that you have long-standing ties to this community as well as an in-depth understanding about the tendencies of some of our residents to find creative ways in which to show their bigoted and racist qualities. I say this to indicate that bringing up the issue at Clancy's did nothing to add any relevant information on this story. What it did was serve to feed into the lowest common denominator in our city and provide them with ammunition to turn my family's tragedy into a vehicle to spew hatred, stereotypes and criminalize the victims unnecessarily.
Because I know you are not ignorant to this reality, it leaves me believing that this slant was done on purpose at worst or you were careless at best. On top of fighting through the reality of the unexpected premature death of a loved one, we now have to block out nonsense conspiracy theories and racially charged epithets from those who aspire to turn this from tragedy to ideas of criminal behavior gone wrong to satisfy their own childish and racist desires. This is also unnecessary, heartbreaking and in large part has been perpetuated by the carelessness and heartlessness of your staff.
I am hoping that you really think about your actions and the hurt that they have caused some in my family. As the editor, I would expect for you to have more oversight on the quality of material sent to print. As a human I would expect you to have more compassion to not only the families of this tragedy but to the spirit of humanity in the wake of such tragic events.
-- Lea Dotson, Warren