Letter to the Editor: Compassion in Accident Coverage

I absolutely detest the lack of compassion the media have during tragic times.

On 2 November 2014, my 20-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident in St. John’s, Newfoundland. It was awful for us to repeatedly see my daughter’s overturned car posted and used in story after story. Yesterday and today it has been awful to see that, yet again, all the media sources reporting the story of the accident on Highway 125 (Wednesday, 6 June 2018) chose to use a photo of the overturned car.

Police line. (Photo by By Tony Webster [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons)

Police line. (Photo by By Tony Webster, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

I am not saying the media should not report on the stories, of course they should. Although it is newsworthy, there are so many other options for photos that could be used; like a far-off photo showing emergency vehicles/lights, or lines of traffic on the ramps, or a detour sign/pylons. There are so many options that could absolutely go with the story if there was an ounce of compassion.

All the shared internet stories and TV stories used the car but the absolute worst was the Cape Breton Post. Not only was there a choice to use the overturned car photo, they placed it mid-page with a small-print caption and a completely unrelated story just above with a very unfortunate and misleading large-print headline.

People I’ve talked to tell me there have been a lot of complaints submitted about this type of thing. Obviously, these complaints are dealt with by uninterested, cruel people who actually think the front-page shock factor has a higher importance than the emotional and mental health of the community.

Personally, every time I see the photo from yesterday, I see my daughter’s car and it all floods back. I know that photo will be used over and over and it will haunt those mourning the loss of their loved one. When people are already dealing with their worst nightmare they should not have to have it amplified by the unfeeling choices of the media!

Janice March
Sydney, NS