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Interesting column on reporting about Robin Williams' suicide

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by old_tony, Aug 19, 2014.

  1. old_tony

    old_tony Well-Known Member

    Andrew Klavan with a strong guest op in the LA Times.

  2. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    That anecdote from his reporting days -- when he announced in the small-town paper that a teenager had committed suicide, and he and his self-righteous editor were so proud -- is horrible and subhuman.
  3. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    Agreed. And he's wrong about the rest of it.

    The fact that Williams committed suicide is absolutely part of the story. The details of his method of suicide add nothing to that whatsoever.
  4. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    I said a similar thing on a thread before and was told I was wrong.
  5. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    Agree. Even early accounts included "by asphyxiation" and that pretty much covered everything that was needed.
  6. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    On the day they announced the specifics of the cause of death, I'd be OK with clarifying that it was death by hanging -- and then pretty much ignoring the specifics in later stories. The added details -- the belt, the cutting -- add nothing of any substance.
  7. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    I couldn't figure out how an LA Times column would land in tony's screech-o-sphere, so I Googled the guy -- he's a born-again conservative (after living part of his life as a BERKELEY LIBERAL!) who is a regular guest on Glenn Beck and has a particular mean-on for Hollywood.

    So, a shit column with a hidden agenda from a hackity-hacker. Other than that, it's great.
  8. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    He should write the same column and change the subject to James Foley.
  9. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    Gawker's already done it. So no need.
  10. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I understand the argument about not reporting the details.

    But then I think how strange it would be to live in a world where I didn't know, for example, that Kurt Cobain shot himself in the head with a shotgun.

    Ultimately, I guess I fall on the side of reporting some level of detail if, for nothing else, to head off the conspiracy kooks.
  11. RecoveringJournalist

    RecoveringJournalist Well-Known Member

    At my first paper, a very well-known high school athlete hung himself, and our news editor asked our preps editor how he was covering it.

    Preps editor: "I'm writing a column and we're doing a reaction story talking to his coach and teammates."

    News editor: (Way too excited) "Perfect. I'm sending a photog to the house and we're going to send a reporter to the house to knock on the door until they can get a reaction from the family. We're doing this all as a centerpiece for 1A."

    Preps editor (one of the best people I've known in this business): "Wow, what a fucking asshole."

    Night editor to Preps editor: "You may not like how he's treating this, but he's all business and the paper will be better as a result. He's a great editor and he knows how to handle this stuff."

    Preps editor: "He may be a great editor, but he's a horrible human being."
  12. RecoveringJournalist

    RecoveringJournalist Well-Known Member

    There are instances when it matters. The football players who shot themselves in the chest so their brains could be studied, I get that.

    I worked with a guy who was reporting on a suicide and he had every detail of the incident, what kind of gun, how he did it and when he picked up the paper the next day, every bit of detail was taken out and it said simply, "shot himself"

    The editor didn't think it was necessary to point out that the guy used a Desert Eagle handgun and put it in his mouth. I have to say, I agreed with the editor.

    For Williams, anything beyond "Death by asphyxiation" is not necessary.
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