The Victoria Snelgrove photos:
The Herald has apologized
for running Page 1 and Page 4 photos of a dying Victoria Snelgrove after Wednesday’s Sox game. So be it. But here’s a prediction: The next sports-related riot/celebration will be slightly more subdued and the Boston police will react more intelligently. I hope I’m right. I truly believe the Page 1 Herald photo in particular, easily one of the most powerful and controversial photos ever to run in a Boston newspaper, will eventually play a role in change. But still there’s understandable controversy ...
says the photo (I’d link to it if I could find it, FYI) “doesn't add to our understanding.” My immediate reaction to that line and logic is: Stop using the word “our” when a writer means “my.” For “me” the photo greatly added to “my” understanding of the event. A lot of other readers obviously felt the same way, as Dan’s admirable comment section
suggests. Some of the comments: “adds everything to the story” and “probably the most newsworty photograph of the year for a Boston newspaper.” So good people can indeed disagree over this issue.
I happen to think the Page 4 photo was unnecessary. But the Page 1 photo told me everything: Victoria Snelgrove died a very violent death. I thought the “pellet” hit her eye and caused a brain hemorrhage. I even thought she might have cracked her head against a railing or sidewalk, causing further harm. I didn’t have time to read various stories that would have refuted those notions. But the Page 1 photo showed, unmistakably, the “pellet” -- and I’m tempted to start describing it as a musketball -- actually penetrated and inflicted gruesome wounds. They’re already moving to ban
these insane ‘non-lethal’ weapons. My other immediate reaction upon seeing the Page 1 photo was that the front-page of the Herald should be torn out and tacked on every dormitory door in the city with the simple message: ‘See?’ These thug celebrations create a danger to everyone -- thugs, cops, innocent bystanders like Victoria Snelgrove, everyone. And, please, don’t forget last year’s death of an innocent bystander during a riot celebration when police were criticized for underreacting to that event. ...
A very wise writer
once wrote the following about horrifying photos run by newspapers: “In the immediate aftermath, the critics are in high dudgeon. Often, though, with the passage of time, we come to see the value of going where the squeamish might not.”
With the passage of time, I think there will be a growing resolve by a wider range of people to put a stop to these riot celebrations and police tactics, partly because people like myself grasped the non-abstract violent nature of these events by staring in shock at the Herald photos.
FYI: I am a Herald business reporter, for all you full-disclosure ethicists out there. But I’m a reader too of non-business stories.
-- More proof that good people can disagree on this issue. I know both of the readers. Here goes:
Reader No. 1, who located the controversial P1 photo here
(up for now), writes of the photo: "I agree with you. ... This IS what really happened!"
But another reader writes: "My first reaction to seeing the Herald's front page that day was, 'This is breathtakingly dumb.' I didn't hear a positive reaction from any non-journalist who saw it, either. My test on publishing gruesome photos like that is, what good will come of this? It has to outweigh the tremendous negatives that come from using the photo: pain to the family and fanning a public image of the media as lacking common decency. I don't think the Herald's use of the photos passed that test."