Thoughts on Austin Hemmings

it’s really interesting for me as a comms student to observe the different viewpoints of us, studying the media, and then seeing the other side of issues at work.

key example: austin hemmings. people were outraged and flooded the paper with emails about how disgusting and disgraceful it was to print a front page pic of the sheet covering his body with his shoes still visible. cold and harsh as it may sound, i didn’t feel a whole lot about it either way . i figured they were illustrating the story, it wasn’t a closeup, it’s all in the pursuit of truth, getting all the facts out and telling a story. of course i could understand why people were upset, i just didn’t particularly share their opinion.

then our tutor explained, in her unimitably intense way, that it was done because it was such a hideous, heinous crime – yes, it was there to shock, it was meant to make us feel ill to drive home the fact that this was random, unplanned and totally shocking.

i’ve tried, i’ve really tried to imagine how i would feel if it was a relative of mine who had been the body in that picture. how would i have felt? i honestly did not have a problem with it. i tried to imagine it under different circumstances. having been run over by a bus? shot in a robbery? murdered in cold blood? yes, in those situations i started to not feel so okay about it.

i think for me it was the fact that he would have died trying to help someone. that element of heroism. that made all the difference and was why i couldn’t quite agree with everyone who was completely outraged at the publication of that picture. like it or not.

One thought on “Thoughts on Austin Hemmings

  • Reply Red February 9, 2010 at 15:47

    Girl, as a journalist, I completely share your thoughts on this. I think, though, as members of the media, we become desensitized because we see and write about this stuff every day. After I had been at the paper for a year, nothing really shocked me, and I couldn’t share the outrage that people felt for stories or photos we ran because, to me, it was – like you said – all in pursuit of the truth. It’s hard to understand both sides of that coin.

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