Blogs » Your Advocate: an editor's blog » Crikey, why did we write about alligator hunting?


Our Tuesday story about alligator hunting in South Texas evoked a lively online discussion. One reader e-mailed me directly with her concerns about the story. At my request, she elaborated on her concerns:

"To be honest,yes, I oppose hunting of all sorts. But I realize that in this area, there are a lot of people who hunt (one of my former boyfriends was a big hunter, as a matter of fact, and it wasn't a deal-breaker for me; we broke up over other issues) and I expect to see articles about hunting in the local papers. Can't say I like it, but as you said, it is legal, and I know that a lot of people have a legitimate interest in hunting articles. My issue with this particular article is that duct-taping and shooting an animal in the back of the head, be it an alligator, deer, bear, or whatever is NOT hunting in the true sense of the word and displays NO sportsmanship.I once wrote a well-researched paper at UH-V addressing poaching, and it seems to me this would likely fall within that realm. If not illegal, it is certainly unethical and immoral, not to mention inhumane. My offense is taken with the actions of the "man" who killed the creature, not SO much with your reporter, but I don't see why an inhumane story involving such cruelty and bloodthirst toward other species would be considered for a story in a newspaper at all. NO attention or spotlight should be given to such inhumanity as this. There should have been NO story in my opinion. I know I am just one reader, but I hope you will consider my point of view. I appreciate your interest and sincerely hope that you can expound upon the reasons behind your decision as an editor to publish something like this. I sincerely would be against seeing anything this graphic and cruel in the future. I realize it does happen, but that doesn't mean I want to see it in my local newspaper. Thank you."

I appreciate the direct and polite questions this reader posed. I also understand why she might be bothered by this method of hunting, or harvesting. To learn more about this process, Tara suggested this link to the Texas Parks and Wildlife guide on gators.

Tara reports on the environment and coastal living for the Advocate. During gator season, it's natural she wanted to go along on a hunt to see firsthand for herself and our readers how people hunt gators in South Texas.

Her story is an accurate and fair depiction of what happens on a gator hunt. For more on this, please also see photojournalist's Sarah Lim's video here and on our home page.

If you're going to support or oppose gator hunting, you ought to first understand what goes on. I don't understand why people think they're better off not knowing, or better off having their newspaper not report what happens.

Because we report on something happening, please do not take that as support or criticism of the story's subject. Readers commonly assign intentions to our  selections when really we're just mostly looking for a good story. A gator hunt is a good story, as evidenced by all of the conversation about it.

If you don't like the news, please don't shoot the messenger.