March 19, 2011

Column: Decisions made more difficult by Internet

One of the many difficult decisions we have to make at the Press-Republican is when to publish the name of someone who dies in an accident or fire.

Reporters are sometimes called "ambulance chasers," but that implies we take some kind of glee in going to accident scenes. I still remember the first fatal accident I covered. I hadn't been on the job long and was a reporter Monday through Thursday and the photographer on Sundays.

As soon as I arrived at the accident, I could tell it wasn't good. The car was mangled, and EMTs were covering up the man they had extricated.

After he was loaded into an ambulance, I started taking pictures — we don't use photos of bodies. When I was done, I walked to a nearby house to call work — no cell phones then — to tell them it was a fatality. The whole way back to the office, I was fighting tears. I couldn't stop thinking about the man's family getting such shocking news.

It never got any easier over the years to hear about a serious accident. We all have families, so we all know the heartbreak ahead for someone. But we have a job to do — to tell people the major news of the North Country.

The Internet has changed so much for our newsroom. While we used to have no recourse for sharing news other than to wait until the next morning's paper, we now regularly publish stories throughout the day on our website. This has presented many opportunities, as we can get articles and stories online within minutes of news happening. But it has also brought new challenges.

Just recently, we covered a fire in Schuyler Falls. Once Fire Control started calling in numerous fire departments, we dispatched a reporter and photographer and started getting together an online article about the fire, which included the address. We had no idea a death was involved; fire fatalities are rare.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Big shift in Quebec vote

    Being a man of science, Philippe Couillard, premier-designate of Quebec, chose to use a geological term (though his field is actually medicine) to describe what happened in Monday's election, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg A monastery in the Hebrides, after 1,000 years

    Before Father Seraphim Aldea can build a monastery on Scotland's Mull Island, he needs to have a working septic system, writes religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time