Blogs » Your Advocate: an editor's blog » How do you focus a camera through the tears?


This is a draft of my column planned for Sunday's Viewpoints page. I welcome your feedback on it.

No journalist wants to cover a funeral.

We report on a funeral only when a person's death is of high community interest. In that event, even those unable to attend want to share in the grieving process.

Such funerals become both personal and public events. First and foremost, of course, funerals are for family and close friends. We don't send a journalist to a service without the family's permission.

Some readers recently criticized the Advocate's photograph from the funeral of 17-year-old Cole Pargmann, a well-known Cuero athlete. The picture showed Cole's mother being consoled by her other son and sister.

Longtime Advocate sports reporter Mike Forman talked with family members before and after the funeral. We had their blessing to report on the event. We don't say this, however, to close the discussion of this photo choice.

No one could look at the picture without feeling deep sorrow. Photojournalist T.C. Baker says he cried during the funeral even though he never knew Cole. The sense of loss shared by the 1,350 people in the school gymnasium was that powerful.

We chose Baker's photograph of Cole's mother and one of the football team carrying the casket because we thought they best told the story and spoke of the human condition. Some readers have suggested we should have selected a less-personal image.

We respect these heartfelt messages and share them elsewhere on this page. You can't argue with such feelings. For anyone ever touched by death, the photograph stirred powerful emotions. I thought immediately about the funeral for my daughter's friend we attended at the end of the school year. Children aren't supposed to die.

To Cole's family, we hope the community is holding you close during your time of tremendous need. We regret if our photo added in even a small way to your pain.