Policy Corner: We takes matters of sensitivity seriously

  • Jim Baumann

    Jim Baumann

 
 
Updated 10/31/2021 12:37 PM

The section on sensitivity in the Daily Herald's guidelines on police and crime reporting is longer than this column.

That's a testament to how seriously we take being sensitive to all involved in tragic situations.

 

We have an obligation to report these cases honestly and fully, but in doing so, we try to be as unobtrusive as possible.

Often, in covering homicides and fatal accidents, we need to reach out to grieving relatives if we are to develop a story about a real person rather than a statistic.

In the early reporting, oftentimes police won't release the name of a victim for a day of two until family members can be notified. We don't want to be the ones to do that.

In those cases, we always try to follow up to tell readers about the story of the person who is no longer alive.

To that end, we also ask family members for photographs of the victim. But in doing so, we try to be sensitive to their grief. We ask, but we don't badger. If someone is not ready to talk, we respect their wishes and leave it at that.

It's been my experience that the vast majority of families appreciate being able to tell our readers about their loved ones.

We always strive to treat relatives of survivors with compassion.

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That extends to relatives of crime suspects, too.

And that sensitivity extends to funerals. In the case of funerals of major public figures, we don't ask for permission, but for every other funeral we feel it's important to cover, we ask whether we can send a photographer and whether we can take photos from the service itself. We ask whether we can send a reporter and whether that reporter can listen in to the service.

We'll even tell you in our reporting that we were invited to be there.

In our coverage, we focus on eulogies, not pestering grieving attendees.

As a community newspaper, we are a part of the community and we make every attempt to act accordingly.

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