The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Opinion

April 11, 2013

No joy in covering tragedies

GREENVILLE — Car crashes. Shoot-outs. Natural disasters.

These are all tragic stories that impact us here in northeast Texas. These stories often dominate our headlines, along with stark photos.

Often, when we publish these photos or stories, we receive criticism or concern from a handful of readers.

At the Herald-Banner, we are cautious when we report on these kinds of stories. We talk to relevant officials and wait to release information until it is confirmed by a reliable, authoritative source. We do our best to get factual, pertinent information on our website and Facebook page as quickly as possible so that our readers are well-informed.

We take no joy in reporting on this kind of news. It affects us in the same way that it affects our readers. But covering these stories is an important part of our job for several reasons.

To begin with, negative news is still news. The car wreck near Cooper that is on today’s front page fit all of the criteria we use in making decisions on what to cover: it was within our coverage zone, it was timely, and it was relevant to our readership. The scene was disturbing; the images were emotionally-jarring. But they also accurately represented the tragedy that occurred Thursday morning.

Our readers expect us to report on what happens in Hunt County and the surrounding area, and that is what we promise: “Reporting the freshest news,” our banner reads.

The information we provide is also educational. Whether we report on a dangerous road or the effects of a tornado, our readers can use that information to prepare themselves to try and avoid future disasters. We frequently write follow-up articles that detail what caused these tragedies, and how these disasters could be avoided, or at least how their impact could be abated.

Finally, ignoring these sad stories would not make them go away. Our hearts and prayers go out to these victims, and we hope for a day when these stories occur with less and less frequency.

But no matter its nature, we will cover the news to the best of our ability — as fairly and as accurately as possible.

This editorial reflects the opinion of the Herald-Banner editorial board. The editorial board can be reached at editor@heraldbanner.com.

 

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