Graphic Crash Photos (Privacy Rights?)

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    While I’m very interested in all the local news, traffic situations, and problem spots to be made aware of…I’m troubled by the photos and (however brief or vague) video of victims posted recently on WSB….

    Clearly these people are in a very vulnerable state. Doubtful they gave permission to be photographed or videoed. I was in a horrible car accident myself a few years back, and would be horrified to learn a photo of myself on a stretcher was on a local web blog.

    A good friend was murdered in the city recently and I was grateful they had the decency to not show her body on TV. They did show a distant view of the albulance window and the flurry of activity in an effort to save her life. Even that was too much for me, but at least it didn’t cross the line.

    I’m not pointing fingers, just opening it up for discussion…thoughts?



    Some people want to see these graphic images and others don’t. I just skip over pictures of victims as quickly as possible out of respect (I thought it was extremely distasteful that the news kept showing Heath Ledger’s body being removed from that apartment building in NYC). Sadly, the news will keep showing this stuff because it is sensational.



    I’d rather not see it too, but I don’t think there is any thing as “privacy rights” since they’re in a public place.

    But yeah, WSB could be a little more respectful.



    I don’t need to see pictures of someone who is hurt and would be angry if my privacy was violated in that way (even if it’s legal to do so.)

    As someone whose family member was just in a very bad accident, it would have been even harder for me if I’d clicked on an Internet page and seen his body lying on the ground.



    Reading the blog for so long, it would never occur to me that the coverage was for sensationalism. Everything so far, has been just the facts. I looked at the pics again and did not see them as graphic. At least of the people. Nothing identifying was shown. No injuries were shown. I took it as a reminder of what does and can happen on our streets.

    We’ve often discussed in depth, speed and dangerous intersections. As well as the mundane of informing street blockage and places to avoid. Showing the property and vehicle damage is no different than the coverage of other tragic events such as the recent arson. Most of us around here aren’t looking at them in a disrespectful way.

    All that being said, I’m sorry the pictures evoked a response of your own experiences that are sad or painful. That is unfortunate. I don’t think in this case, there is any malice or invasion of privacy intended. The news exist to inform.



    Jt I am backing you on this one.



    (copied from blog comments)

    There is a great number of positive community focused stories on WSB and that’s awesome!

    But, these pictorials of tragedies I don’t think are necessary. I didn’t start reading WSB two years ago for the bad news. I can find that on the mainstream news if I want it. Yeah, accidents and fires happen,(even in West Seattle) but it doesn’t help the people involved if everybody in town knows if it’s just for the sake of knowing. The guy laying in the road I doubt wanted his picture taken, much less the other victims and cars.

    It’s great to bring attention to problem areas, but possibly a less sensational approach might be something to consider.

    I actually have stopped coming by as often to read the blog since more of this kind of reporting has been going on.

    Not that I’m perfect by any stretch. WSB is surely impressive and really WSB you deserve great appreciation and success for giving so much to the community.



    JT – I certainly don’t think WSB or people contributing stories here are going for sensationalism at all. I truly believe they are trying to depict the news as it happens.

    However, we need to remember these are PEOPLE, not just “news”. And people we might very well know or be related to (not that it should matter).

    A location, a crashed car, an ambulance, a stretcher – all convey what we need to know and learn from. Showing someone in such a vulnerable (and many times embarrassing) situation without their permission, in my opinion, is not a necessary part of the equation.



    they say a picture is worth a thousand words…

    i felt that my privacy was grossly invaded in the story that was done by the evening news of me in Minnesota for the launch of the FACES campaign educating people about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

    I agreed to be interviewed, but i didn’t agree to appear pathetic on film… and the images of me struggling physically were those they chose to concentrate on. i cringe with embarrassment every time i watch that clip.

    yet, those very images of me struggling are more honest visually about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome than anything else would have been. Life with this illness is a continual struggle that seldom manifests itself visually.

    Traffic accidents are just local statistics until they manifest themselves visually.

    If those pictures remind just one person that their hasty driving can and often does have human consequences… then the reporter has done a real service to the community.. has helped to make something positive come of tragedy.

    i think too often we drive just at the limits of safety.. forgetting to consider the huge margins of error we could be leaving for the unexpected.

    i think it is hard for any reporter to make certain that they stay behind that fine line of taste… and that line is different for each viewer.

    i wouldn’t want to be the one making those sorts of judgment calls.



    Rainyday, I certainly understand your point of view and it’s validity. I only wished to state, it did not effect me in the same way.

    And I didn’t think you personally were disparaging WSB or calling it sensationalism. I was just giving my perspective.



    The recent photo of an accident on the corner of 40th & Andover was merely a reminder that these things can occur close to home and to be careful at neighborhood intersections. Nothing more. These photos don’t sensationalize or disrespect the victims in any way (IMHO). It’s easy enough to pass them over with a mouse click if they do offend.

    Nothing offensive or disrespectful to these eyes in WSB yet…of coarse, my opinion only…



    oops- I certainly don’t think WSB is contributing to ‘sensationalism’ in the news. I meant to imply that regular news sources take care of that. I like the style of reporting WSB does and just think if I don’t want to look at graphic pictures or videos that show a victim, I don’t. But maybe I’d want to for some reason and it’s nice to have that option. WSB- keep up the great reporting!



    Several years ago, a relative was sexually attacked at Rainier State School in Buckley. I was there for the exam which verified it. I tried to get the local police force to investigate…they were not too interested as the school is for DD people.

    To make a long story shorter…one afternoon many months, I heard a Channel 7 reporter talking about my sister and that a charge had been filed in Pierce County…contrary to being upset that our privacy was invaded, I was delighted to hear something had been done…even though I had to hear it via the news.

    I won’t rant about why the other officials didn’t contact me. I did subsequently testify in court.

    My point is that although sometimes it is uncomfortable to hear the news, it can be very informative – either for everybody or in my case, for my family.

    BTW, in the end, the employee was not convicted because they wouldn’t accept my DD sister’s testimony. And I guess being present at the hospital when the evidence was found wasn’t strong enough evidence.

    I think the WSB is the best. As others have noted, the driver and injured were not identified. Actually all I saw were some feet and a body (lower torso) laying on a stretcher.



    The car crash pictures were hardly graphic.

    Graphic would be blood and guts, etc. streaming into the gutter and no local news station or print media would print or run such a thing.

    I wasn’t bothered by them in the least, I just think editing it down to one or two photos would have been a better layout for the story.



    I find it interesting that in a culture that craves, promotes and idolizes violence, news photos can be such a hot topic. In an effort to convey the REALITY of these events in a world where shoot ’em up, blow ’em up cynical TV and cinema are the norm, the only people that are really hurting are those who have lived through such a terrible event, whether accident, rape, suicide, homicide, untimely death etc.

    Pictures, whether photographs or other art media, are as close as many will get to understanding what it is like to be there until they actually ARE THERE. It all remains in the factual-yet-hypothetical world we assume to travel through safely.

    With kindest regards to WSB and Community Readers.

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