Shame on Empire

Posted: Sunday, February 27, 2000

Monday afternoon Kelvin and Luann Spiech died in a tragic accident. As a school psychologist, I was notified Monday evening by the principal that a student from Harborview School and his mother were involved in the accident. On Tuesday morning myself and other counselors and psychologists worked as a crisis intervention team to help the staff and students at the school deal with the issue which for may children was the first time that a death of a classmate or a teacher had affected them so closely.

Luann and Kelvin's death affected many people in this community. The decision by the editors and publisher of the Empire to publish the picture that was used on the front page showed extremely poor judgment. It was inappropriate, calloused and disrespectful to the family of the victims.

As a community the citizens of Juneau rely on the Empire for news. As a member of the community the newspaper has a responsibility to the citizens to report the news. The editorial in that very issue showed respect as was tasteful yet was in complete contrast to the picture published on the front page. The picture that was used went beyond news reporting and was nothing more than cheap sensationalism. The news story about the incident also in my opinion was poorly done. However each reader can choose to stop reading the story, a person does not have a choice to quit looking at a picture once it is seen.

The picture the Empire chose to publish for sensationalism in an attempt to sell newspapers created more trauma and discomfort for many of the children who knew Luann and Kelvin. The Empire editors and publisher should be ashamed for the poor taste, lack of compassion and questionable judgment for those in the community.

Doug Wessen

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