Salt Lake Tribune Remove Crime Scene Photo Of Black Victim Of White Supremacy!
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Dear Mr. Huntsman,
I appreciate the Salt Lake Tribune printing my commentary on August 20, 2017, the 37th anniversary of Ted Fields and David Martin's racially motivated murders by a racist serial killer, Joseph Paul Franklin. He murdered 22 people in 12 states trying to start a race war. This was the end of the line for him. He was caught and convicted never to kill again because of the fine Utah detectives investigating the deaths of Ted and Dave. Utah should be proud of that fact.
This was personal to me. I was with them when Ted and Dave were killed in 1980. I was 15 years old and incredibly traumatized by the newspaper articles that printed my address in the paper 5 times and then later proceeded to make assumptions about why I survived. It turned the community against me and each other.
The treatment I received from the Salt Lake Tribune changed the course of my life in a damaging ripple effect of which I haven't ever completely recovered.
A week ago, when I submitted my op ed, I asked the Salt Lake Tribune to honor the 2 murdered victims by showing their faces in my commentary.
I asked that their pictures show their faces and for them to be included. I understand that things are done a certain way there. So when the printed version showed my photo and not theirs, I wasn't surprised.
But when I saw the internet link to the story I was horrified and re-traumatized by the photo of the crime scene chosen by the Tribune. I haven't slept for days. I keep having flashbacks. I can't seem to get over it. I can't imagine how hard it is for Ted's and Dave's family. Can you?
Why choose to show a photo of Ted's dead body rather than their faces?
In media it seems that black bodies are preferable pictures to those of the victims graduation or family photos. I hope that you understand how damaging this is to the victims and their loved ones.
It seems reasonable that those trusted to share crime victims stories, would recognize that this dehumanizes, re-traumatizes the victims and supports racism.
If the Salt Lake Tribune's editor doesn't know this by now, please note it for the sake of future victims. It's re-traumatizating and inflames PTSD.
Its surprising that a newspaper that won the Pulitzer Prize for a story about the mistreatment of a victim would not be more sensitive to this concern.
I asked that the photo of the crime scene be replaced by the photos of the victims faces through comments in the link and emails. But still it stayed.
After my requests were unanswered, quite a few calls of concern from friends were made to your paper. Eventually their pictures were included in the story line but the crime scene was the main picture on the link.
Now the link shows with their faces but when the link is opened to the story, the CRIME SCENE is still there.
Why is this necessary? Can you refer me to photos of dead white men that your paper has printed for historical context?
I sent a letter to your editor, Jennifer Napier-Pearce asking that she remove it.
This is her response to me:
Thanks very much for your commentary. It was a timely piece and it's worth remembering these two fine young men who lost their lives to the same kind of irrational hate we're seeing today.
I sympathize with your request to remove the crime scene photo, but like it or not, it's an important part of the history that you wrote about and asked readers to remember. We can't undo that ugly past and as difficult as it is to see, the photo meets our journalistic standards and serves as a record of that horrible event. You'll note, however, that the two graduation photos are most prominently displayed at the top of the page with the historical photo at the midpoint.
Thank you again for your contribution.
Best regards, Jennifer"
Mr. Huntsman, the relevant Standards of Professional Journalism are as follows:
Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.
– Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness.
– Show compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage. Use heightened sensitivity when dealing with juveniles, victims of sex crimes, and sources or subjects who are inexperienced or unable to give consent. Consider cultural differences in approach and treatment."
Mr. Huntsmen I implore you to remove the picture of the crime scene.
Please understand that the parents and loved ones of the deceased victims have been hurt unnecessarily by the Tribune's poor choice of keeping the picture in the story. It's cruel and dehumanizing.
Seeing the picture of Ted's murdered body in the story line is so disrespectful and traumatizing to the victims, survivors and their families.
I respectfully ask, "How would you feel if this happened to someone you love?"
Keeping the crime scene photo in my commentary is an unacceptable example of journalistic integrity. Please correct this error immediately.
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