Blogs » Your Advocate: an editor's blog » How do you handle the emotions stirred by a child's death?


All journalists will tell you they dread going to the scene of a traffic fatality. It's many times worse when the victim is a small child, as we reported in Friday's Advocate.

Reporter Leslie Wilber and photojournalist Roni Gendler were almost in tears at the scene Thursday and afterward. The police chief and other first responders felt similar emotions. We generally try to stuff these feelings because we have a job to do and know any pain we feel is nothing compared to those directly involved in the incident.

Our mission is to inform the public while being as compassionate as possible to the victims' family and friends. Some online readers commented they thought our reporter was insensitive for reporting what the car wash manager had to say about blood stains at the scene.

I asked her this morning why she included that information. She explained she was trying to show how such a horrible tragedy affected even a man who worked there. He and others would never be the same. She said she thought about taking out that paragraph. Managing editor Thomas Martinez said he also stopped and thought about deleting the graph, but left it because he thought it was compelling information.

It's easy to second-guess any such decision. Did the paragraph convey well enough the emotion Leslie wanted to show? Was it too graphic? Perhaps.

Nonetheless, I commend both Leslie and Roni for the tough job they did that day. I know we all wish that story didn't happen.