Where Human Decency Is IgnoredMarch 8, 2008 - Author: newscoma - Comments are closed
I don’t know why I do these things to myself.
I don’t really go to Thaddeus Matthews Blog other than when he’s being written up by the Commercial Appeal or there is some reason when I see a headline on a post of his in an aggregator that gets my attention.
Last night, I saw on Knoxville Talks where Katie Allison Granju wrote this:
Shame on you, Thaddeus Matthews.
I’m all for muckraking, truth-telling and aggressive reporting – on blogs and in the traditional press – but publishing these apparently illegally obtained photos of a murdered woman serves no purpose but your own need for attention
Me being me wondered “What the hell?”
This is going to be long, so there’s more after the jump.
So I read the story and the comments over at the Commercial Appeal and there isn’t any doubt that a heinous crime has been committed. But I’m still curious, so I google TM’s blog and that’s when I saw the pictures that he took in a funeral home. I’ll be honest, I knew at that point from Katie’s post that those pictures were there.
I won’t link to them. You can do what you want.
Here’s the things that I noticed at both places. There are roughly the same amount of comments at Matthews’ blog and at the CA. I sort of got clinical about this. I used to work with battered women and I’ve seen dead people before so forgive me if I move into a certain mindset. When you work in news, you see some horrible stuff as well. And people are going both ways with their thoughts about it. Most of the comments at TM’s blog were anonymous, some supporting his decision to run the photos. But, you know what, BIG DEAL. Those folks are not Shindri Roberson’s family who are horrified. They are burying their loved one who died terribly. Imagine if you had just lost a loved one in a violent murder and then you see someone, without your permission, took pictures of that person. How would you feel?
Now this story from last night from WREG-TV reports this:
Police have been slow with details about the Lester Street murders.
For days family members couldn’t even see their loved ones bodies.
So when graphic pictures of murder victim Shindri Roberson’s dead body showed up on an internet website it sent shockwaves, especially to her family.
“My brother pulled it up. He said it’s her. She looked like she was scared and frightened. He said I need to go look at it. I said I don’t want to see it.” says Verlee Jones, Roberson’s aunt.
The pictures appeared on blogger Thaddeus Matthews website.
Matthews stands by his decision saying the city needs a plan to prevent other killings.
Roberson’s family says no one had their authority to take pictures.
Let me say this: What Matthews did in disrespecting the family was absolutely the most self-serving thing I’ve seen in a long time. Putting pictures of this girl up on his blog was irresponsible. He didn’t care about her family. He only cared about being, in what he calls himself on his own blog “The South’s Greatest Blogger.” (His words, not mine.) He also has a funeral home ad on his page. I couldn’t help but wonder why that was up there although this is a different funeral home where Roberson was at. (The funeral home in question said they had no knowledge about Matthews taking the pictures, incidentally.)
With that said, this story from the Memphis Flyer from just a couple of weeks ago that I remembered reading this from last month.
Shortly after 18-year-old Dexter Cox was arrested in the homicide case of Memphis Police Lieutenant Edward Vidulich, blogger Thaddeus Matthews released Cox’s leaked police statement on his website.
Matthews is refusing to release the name of the person who leaked the documents, and Memphis Police director Larry Godwin has launched an investigation. The issue has raised a debate as to whether or not Matthews should be protected by the state’s shield law, which protects journalists from revealing their sources.
First of all, KAG is absolutely, positively right. There was no reason to go into a funeral home and take pictures that have devastated a family (illegally it seems.) Second of all, Matthews would be terminated if he had done this for a media outlet but then again, a media outlet wouldn’t have done this (or at least I don’t think they would have.) I’m with her, I like a good aggressive story too but I also believe in human decency and respect for Roberson’s family.
And Matthews, before this incident, was written up (also in the Commercial Appeal) for testing the shield laws in regards to the second story I referenced.
Does he deserve the shield laws applied to journalists when he does something like this?
But lets not muddy the waters here; the issues is not about journalists versus bloggers. It’s about decency. He could have spotlighted this story without putting graphic pictures of a dead girl on his blog. He could have still focused on this horrible murder, but instead he put up pictures of Shindri Roberson.
This girl that was loved by her family, and her family was appalled by Matthews’ photos. They had to see this. He had no regard for how they would feel.
If you do go over to his blog, he says he offers no apologies about what he’s done.
And I agree with Silence who summed it up in two words.
So, yeah, Thaddeus, you got a ton of attention for this and isn’t that what you wanted?
But not for the reasons you think.
Update: Vibinc adds his voice to the blogger who is not to be named and the CA reports this morning more details. I didn’t know Matthews had done this before but according to the CA report, he has.