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Front-page photo didn't consider victims' families

Published April 2, 2004

I think the photo of the dead civilian contractors on the front page of the April 1 issue was completely out of line. It isn't bad enough that the families have to deal with the death of a loved one, but now they have to see their mutilated bodies hanging from a bridge.

It is no stretch for them to figure out who is hanging there. They know when their loved ones died and where. Now they have a brutal image to go along with it.

I know this is a big story, but no one needs to go for the shock factor in order to report this story. It seems that your paper has a habit of reporting with as much shock impact as possible. I can remember seeing bodies falling from the sky in your paper after the World Trade Center attack.

What would you feel if the pictures were of your family members? Would this be the image you would want burned into your mind when they die? Please report the news, but do refrain from trying to dishonor the dead with pictures such as these!

I considered canceling my subscription after the World Trade Center photos. I guess I will have to reconsider my decision to keep subscribing and advertising with you.

-- Edward S. Dwyer III, Inverness

Prize-winning poor taste

The photo that appeared on the April 1 front page exhibited appalling poor judgment. The headlines reported the horrible news. Why print a picture of the victims hanging from a bridge? Is there a Pulitzer for poor taste? Shape up!

-- Sharon W. Smith, Ocala

Maybe we should remove the kid gloves

Re: Jubilant mob mauls 4 dead Americans, April 1.

I am am neither a dove nor a hawk, but this latest atrocity in Iraq tears it for me, a Korean War veteran. Though I'm no longer a young man, if our country needed/called me, I would most willingly serve again!

Somehow, I recall the "Gunboat diplomacy" days of President Teddy Roosevelt - "Speak softly but carry a (very) big stick!"

As Union Army Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman said, "War is Hell!" - especially when innocent civilians are killed, too.

Just maybe, it is time for the United States to remove the kid gloves and crush the terrorists with mailed fists, wherever and whenever they rear their ugly heads.

-- Joseph P. Corell, Safety Harbor

Get us out of this mess

After seeing the warmth and affection shown to American civilians and soldiers by the Iraqi citizens, I give dear Mr. Bush two choices. Either leave the Iraqis to rot in their squalor today, or start treating them in kind by mowing down a few thousand "innocent" Iraqi civilians. Whoops, we can't do that - we are much too civilized.

Dear Mr. Bush got us into this mess. He better act pronto in getting us out. I don't see Mr. Bush over there getting shot at or burnt to a crisp and hung from a post. I'd prefer not to lose my breakfast again the way I did looking at the newspaper on Thursday.

-- Paul Hendess, Safety Harbor

We have a tiger by the tail

Why are we there in a land that does not want us? Those were civilian workers who were there to help rebuild what we had destroyed. Those people who committed that brutal act are the lowest form of life. They not only killed but also mutilated the bodies.

Our illustrious leader has got a tiger by the tail. We went into Iraq to find something that may or may not have existed and to depose a regime the people may or may not have wanted. In other words we stuck our nose into someone else's business.

We should not try to force our type of government and lifestyle on people who over the centuries have existed with a culture different from ours.

-- Jo Ann Merritt, Seminole

We should all be praying

Re: Jubilant mob mauls 4 dead Americans.

We as Americans should be outraged by the actions of these animals. To pull the charred bodies out and display them on a bridge is something that most Americans would not even consider doing to others. Do these people totally disregard human life? Do they have any moral fiber to their being? I think not.

What is going through the minds of the family members who lost their loved ones in this horrific event? I know I will be praying for them and hope they can find some peace in their lives. We should all be praying. This seems to be something that will never cease, and I will never forget the photograph.

-- Cindy Ripley, St Petersburg

Where is the sense of decency?

Re: Jubilant mob mauls 4 dead Americans.

If by including that horrific picture of dead and burned American workers hanging from a bridge over the river you intended to sicken your readers, you certainly accomplished your mission. The graphic nature of the picture is despicable and has no business on the front page of the St. Petersburg Times. There is no need to show us the extent of Iraqi hatred for the United States. You shame and tarnish your image with this type of horrific picture.

While your paper may have a "Standard of accuracy," it certainly seems at least to lack any sense of decency for the victims, their families and your readers.

-- Bill Raymond, Palm Harbor

Be angry at Washington chicken hawks

You will no doubt encounter a lot of anger for using the horrifying photo on the front of the April 1 Times. The real target of the anger should be the people in Washington who blithely predicted this would be "a cakewalk," that the joyous Iraqis would greet our soldiers with rose petals, and that free-flowing oil would easily pay for the expenses of conquering Iraq. We now know that our young men are paying the price for the lies of the chicken hawks.

-- Tom Butler, Tallahassee

A disappointing lack of taste

I am a full-time substitute teacher in Citrus County. We get your paper in bundles at school. But I was extremely disturbed and disappointed to see the Thursday front page. There for all - including our children - to see, you published a picture of the scarred remains of those poor American contractors hanging from the bridge.

Beside the children, I could not help but think of the families. My son is in Iraq and I would not want to see his remains, God forbid, all over the front page of the newspaper.

This is the reason we will never subscribe to the Times. You have shown on a couple of occasions that you lack common sense and good taste. What a disappointment you are.

-- Pat Elling, Beverly Hills

Don't make it worse for military families

I was appalled to see the picture of the bodies of the dead American contractors published in the St. Petersburg Times.

When Daniel Pearl was killed, his killers released graphic footage of his execution and his decapitated body. Not a single reputable U.S. newspaper published the picture of his corpse. Because he was "one of you," the media chose to respect his family and not leave them with the most horrific images imaginable of someone considered to be a loving husband, expectant father and son.

Why the double standard? If publishing a photo of Daniel Pearl's decapitated body was not an option, why is the Times so eager to inflict unimaginable pain on others?

There are those that argue the pictures force the public to consider U.S. policies. In that case, why not publish the pictures of corpses at the scene of drunken driving accidents? I don't mean the bodies with a blanket over them. I mean the actual bodies as they are found at the scene. Don't you think those pictures would influence our laws on drunken driving?

The English language provides an abundance of adjectives for true professionals to portray the brutality of events without relying on pictures. With the advent of the Internet, it would not be difficult for you to provide a place where demented people can go and view these pictures. To the credit of many Internet sources, they do warn of graphic images and then provide links away from the story. I have a choice whether I want to see the images or not. They do not have a place in the newspaper because the reader does not have a choice if the picture is plastered across the top section of the front page (or any page for that matter). We all know the top section of the front page is what sells papers.

In my opinion, you are doing the men and women of the military a disservice by publishing pictures like that. They and their families are under incredible stress. Publishing such pictures only adds to their stress. As a sister of one of these servicemen, those images haunt me. They rip at my soul every time I see them. I cannot imagine what my sister-in-law or my parents feel when they see them. I am grateful his children are too young to understand.

Please, do your duty. Report on Iraq in a professional and tasteful manner. Keep the family members of the military in mind.

-- Elaine Mann, Largo

Losing our sons and daughters

We are losing the lives of our sons and daughters in a land that is barbaric and unappreciating.

If President Bush's daughters and Gov. Jeb Bush's son would enlist in the military and be sent to iraq, our timetable to pull out of that nation would be accelerated.

-- Joanna Harrington, Treasure Island

An enemy too mysterious

With all the focus on military intelligence, both before and since 9/11, why don't we know who is killing our troops in Iraq?

We read reports of soldiers and contractors dying. The attackers alternately are described as insurgents (from where it never says), rebels, guerrillas, and terrorists. But each description is qualified in a way that places in doubt whether we really know who is trying to kill us. How can we win a war if we don't know who we are fighting, how many of them there are, or where they come from? How can we win a war if we don't even know what constitutes winning?

On Wednesday, four American contractors were attacked in their vehicles and killed. As the vehicles burned, their bodies were dragged out, desecrated, and hung in public view. According to the New York Times, no troops or police even bothered to go to the scene until the crowd had dispersed. Poor intelligence? Confusion? Fear? All of the above?

Since President Bush declared, "Mission accomplished" 10 months ago, more than 400 American soldiers have been killed and thousands maimed and wounded in Iraq. And we don't even know who is responsible. Shame.

-- Meyer Baron, Gulfport

It was wrong

Re: April 1 front page.

How could you do that? How could you expose my family and children to this? It is the right of my wife and me to deem when it is appropriate to expose my children to the atrocities of the human race - not yours. Claim it was newsworthy all you want, claim it was on the national news, that the Tampa Tribune did it - whatever you want. It was still wrong.

It was a sad day for the families of the victims and a sad day for news reporting in the area.

-- Matthew Richardson, Valrico

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[Last modified April 2, 2004, 01:20:42]


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