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Working in the mental health field as a volunteer I have been exposed to many persons that have attempted and/or succeeded in killing themselves. One of the things we all have to remember is most suicidal people have no idea the pain they will cause their loved ones by committing suicide. They can't imagine not being in mental pain forever so they do not feel they have anything to live for. Mental health education teaches us that it is the sickness that makes you feel you will never be happy again so lets educate all that we can reminding them to get help or call someone when they feel this way that will understand them and not condem them. It is not the families shame that their loved one committed suicide so why punish them with secrecy. Instead tell the world that another beautiful person lost their life due to an illness too many want to act like it does not exist. There is help and it is not your fault that you were born with mental illness or experienced an injury that caused your illness.
In the real world news reporting is the publishing of information that is true and factual. It is not black or white, or good or bad. It is a reporting of details that are accruate and unbiased. Choosing not to report an event is "managing" the news which is in and of itself is biased.
If the Victoria Advocate decides to not report a story that is thier purgative but the editors are not doing the core job of a newspaper. Report the news.
I read the newspaper for information. Grammar errors, etc.typically doesn't change the news. The headline/news should solely state the facts, many times the facts are not agreeable to our palate. News is often horribly despicable events.
Perhaps a different wording? Maybe... hindsight is a great thing -- however not obtainable in the "now".
Grandpa,I assume you're making more of an editorial comment than asking an actual question. Of course, our copy editors receive headline training and regular feedback. You can look at just about any headline after deadline and think of possible other options, which might or might not be an improvement. The primary goals of headlines are to be clear and descriptive. In this case, the recommended guidelines suggest a headline be less clear and less descriptive. Not every editor would agree with this approach, but we try to reach a consensus in our newsroom through continued training and discussion.
Can I ask why your "headline editor" doesn't get trained on this before they screw up? This is the usual practice in most "professional organizations". I must add that your headlines suck on many reported stories.
I would say VHS80 hit the nail on the head. Also, your paper will run the obituary in a day or so, and if people want to know the details of the death, too bad. It's really none of our business. Plus, the newspaper cannot stop all of the rumors.
I agree with your suggested headline. We will be reviewing this topic during our monthly ethics board meeting. Thank you for your comments.
Chris, You put a link in your explanation on recommendations for journalists who cover suicide. I read it. In this link they recommend that when covering suicide in a small community, the method of death SHOULD NOT BE PUT IN THE HEADLINE. If you had followed the recommendations you cite, the headline would have read, "Local Businessman Dies at Age 51," and the body of the article would have explained the method.
I do not envy you in trying to decide what to report and how to report it. I am certainly glad that it is you, and not I, who has to make that decision.
I certainly understand that approach. I'll post later today or tomorrow about our discussion Monday.
In my previous life, I was a news photojournalist for several television stations in Texas. I can tell you that once we found out from police on the scene that it was a suicide, we packed our gear and left. Didn't report that on the news that night. Left it alone.However, that's not to say we didn't shoot any footage if it turned out to be a homicide just in case there was more to the story that couldn't be seen at the time of the death.