Special sound off: Readers react to front-page photo

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We chose to publish a photo on the front page of Tuesday's Steamboat Today that showed Eagle County authorities removing the body of a young Steamboat Springs man who died Sunday night at a campground near State Bridge. This photo shocked and offended some of our readers.

The newspaper makes news judgments on a daily basis. Given the chance to do it again, perhaps we would make different judgments, but we can't be sure. What we can do is accept responsibility for the decisions we make and acknowledge differing viewpoints.

Listed below are some of the criticisms we received by phone and e-mail about the photo published Tuesday.

n I am utterly appalled at the front page of today's newspaper "Steamboat man found dead." I cannot believe that the Steamboat Pilot & Today would have such disrespect for the person who was murdered and for the community. Max was well known in this community and now the image of him in a body bag will forever haunt us. Maybe we don't have many "sensational" stories for your staff to write about, but this front-page image was way out of line.

n I am good friends with Max, the gentleman who passed away in State Bridge. I just want you to know that I am completely and utterly outraged by the picture you put on the front page of the newspaper. I am sure I speak for a lot of other people, as well. It completely disgusted me, and it was very disrespectful to the young man who passed away.

n I think your cover picture on Tuesday's paper is very unprofessional and unnecessary. That is my personal friend and roommate in that body bag. Just think about what his mom is going to feel like when she picks up the paper today. I think a written apology to his family and friends is needed on the front page of the paper Wednesday. How about you make the apology at least as big as that picture on the front of the paper. I really hope this message is not ignored, as it is way more important than the picture that you ran today.

n I looked at the Today paper and was shocked to see the photograph on the front cover. I feel it was inappropriate to have a photo of the body bag. How do you think friends and family of that young man would feel? If that were my brother, it would have broken my heart. Steamboat is known for being a family community, and that photo was wrong.

n I am a frequent reader of the Today newspaper and mostly enjoy your coverage, including your photos. However, I think the cover photograph in the Tuesday newspaper was in extremely poor taste. I think you owe the family an apology.

n I am just calling to say how disappointed I was to see the front-page photo on the Today newspaper. It was totally uncalled for. I knew the young man who died, and I just think it was awful to see him in a body bag on the front page of the newspaper. How would you feel if it was someone you knew?

n I am outraged by your decision to run the photo of the young man who died on the front page of the newspaper. I thought it was the newspaper's policy not to run photos of dead people. It was insensitive. Please think next time something like this happens.

n Leave it to the newspaper to sensationalize a tragedy. Your photo today was just awful. It was disrespectful and unprofessional. That's not journalism.

Others who have questions or comments about the photo may contact me directly at 871-4221 or sstanford@steamboatpilot.com

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