It’s our job to bring you the news of the day whether it’s delivered on social media or chronicled on the pages of our weekly newspaper, the Headlight Herald. It’s been our goal since the first paper rolled off the presses back in 1888 in Tillamook County.
Last week we published two fatal crash stories with photos both online and in our weekly paper. It’s something we cover when these events happen because it’s news.
My heart goes out to the families and friends of those involved in these horrible accidents. I lost my older brother to accidental death, so I have a little idea what these families are going through.
I would rather fill the Headlight Herald pages with news of state championships, or news of the fair breaking records for attendance. And we do, but sometimes tragedy strikes and we have to cover it.
A quick check with our sheriff last week and he said they have responded to something like 18 vehicle accidents in the past month or more. He and his deputies have been very busy on our roads this winter.
When covering hard news stories like crashes, we do follow the policies we have in place that allow us to present the story in a professional manner, giving the readers a true picture of the event. We do screen the photos we use to ensure no graphic images are published.
It’s important and helpful to emergency crews to let people know when a road is closed or there is a situation where it’s best to void the area. That’s where social media comes in play. When a road is closed, people want to know why, when they hear or see an emergency crew set up on our roads they want to know what happened.
It’s also important to recognize that running stories and photos of crashes makes people think and drive more carefully.
With all the bloggers and so-called information websites out there today simply passing on what they have heard or reposting what someone else has shared, it’s become even more important to get the facts and story straight. The people of Tillamook County have turned to the Headlight Herald to do just that. It’s our job.
Lately, we have been questioned why we run photos of crash scenes with stories. The use of photos is sometimes the best way to describe an event. They compose an image we can’t always make with words. They help tell the serious nature of life and death. And they show how important it is that we have invested our tax dollars in public safety.
It’s our ethical and journalistic duty to deliver you the news, not some watered-down version or censored report. That’s why we often times dig deeper than what is released or presented to the community by public agencies and other outlets.
We will never be able to please everyone with our coverage. That is unrealistic. But, we can do it in a professional and informed manner. That’s our obligation to you, the reader, and that’s what we will continue to do.
"Be honest, be just, and fear not. Hew to the line, and let the chips fall where they may." – Tillamook Headlight, 1888