Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — One of our contributing photographers has taken a bit of grief from people he knows following the publication of a letter to the editor last week, criticizing a photo we published that the photographer snapped. Without getting into too much detail, I’ll just say that the photo shows Lockport police officers moving in to help a man who was mortally injured.
We took great care ensuring that the photo we used did not show the victim, and we explained in an editorial the reasons we chose to publish it. Understandably, the victim’s mother took us and our photographer to task for using the picture.
I completely respect the mother’s opinion. Having no children of my own I can only imagine the pain of losing a child and can’t say how I would react to a similar photo if I were a parent. The mother wrote about how the image will stay with her forever. My hope is that she will recognize that the police officers are rushing to help her son, and take some level of comfort with that.
A few weeks ago we asked our citizens advisory board their opinion on using the photo, and they all agreed that what we used was appropriate. The board consists of people from all walks of life, to give us a fairly good representation of the city’s populace. Their opinions mean a great deal to us. So, too, do the opinions of our readers, but the voices from the advisory board are the ones we hear most frequently.
Also, I’d like to point out that Steve Wallace shouldn’t take any blame for the photo in question. All he did was point his camera and click. It was our decision — and ours alone — to publish it. We stand by that decision.
What’s interesting is that Steve didn’t hear any criticism from acquaintances when we first printed the photo back in early May. That, I don’t understand. Did these people think nothing of the photo — in other words, accepted it as a news item — when it first ran, then changed their minds? Or perhaps they didn’t see the original photo, which is accurately described above.
In any event, the decision to print the photo wasn’t Steve’s. He’s taking unfair criticism for simply doing his job. Steve has taken hundreds of photos of motor vehicle accidents, fires and other emergencies. Every photo that’s printed could evoke a painful or sorrowful memory. Unfortunately, that’s part of our business.
Steve himself is a first responder and knows what to look for when he goes to an emergency that’s either not in his jurisdiction or his responsibility. Nonetheless, he has been known to drop his camera and help out when asked.
As always, we encourage your thoughts and opinions. When it comes down to what’s published and what isn’t, direct them to me. I’ll be glad to respond.
I continue to familiarize myself with eastern Niagara County. Last Sunday my wife and I made a trip up to Olcott Beach, my first and her first since she was a teenager. A very quaint hamlet. Irish music playing on the patio at a pub, and some pleasant odors coming from the grills at other dining/drinking establishments.
Another first: Reid’s. My first day on the job here, the newsroom crew said they’d have to bring me there on a nice warm afternoon. I beat them to it. Wonderful ice cream. My wife and I easily understood why the place is so popular. We’ll be back.
What is it about seagulls and french fries? There were a couple dozen outside Reid’s last Sunday, all stepping as close as they dared to the people dining on the picnic tables. It’s not an uncommon sight wherever food is served in an outdoor setting, but for some reason these winged rats love french fries. I don’t know if it’s the small size that makes them appealing or perhaps it’s the soft texture. Every time I see one chowing down on a fry, I remember as a child watching a seagull pick up a cigarette butt at the beach, then quickly drop it. I was quite amused.
A little egg on my face from last week’s column: I identified the wrong Sammarco brother who sits on our citizens advisory board. Tony is the one who sits on our board. As soon as I read my own column in print, I recognized my error. My apologies to Tony and he has full permission to tease me about the error at our next meeting.John Hopkins is the managing editor for the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal. His column appears on Sunday. Contact Mr. Hopkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.