DNTV Showcases Murder Victim’s Blood

In what is perhaps a new low for the Duluth News Tribune, the DNT’s website just posted its first-ever “DNTV Special Report” in which Executive Editor Rob Karwath basically reads the paper’s earlier story about last night’s murder in Duluth’s Central Hillside, apparently as an excuse to show what did not run in either the newspaper or on the website’s text version of the story: a photograph of the crime scene with large pools of the victim’s blood.

In the video, Karwath narrates as the photo appears not just once, but over and over again, interspersed with other photos from the crime scene. Apparently, it is unethical to print the victim’s name at this sensitive time for his friends and family. But it is perfectly OK to showcase photos of the blood that came out of his fatally damaged head.

In addition to the DNTV piece, which at least does not allow comments, there is the text story, which unfortunately has comments open. At the time of this posting, there are 43 comments, which vacillate between racist, asinine comments about the type of person who lives in Duluth’s Central Hillside, and commentary about the shocking disrespect which is allowed to run rampant in our hometown’s newspaper of record.

I ask this, openly of everyone involved with the DNT and the news media in general: Is this how you would have handled this story if the victim were one of your own loved ones? Do you actually think that any of this is ethical?

I’d also like to know what the PDD community thinks of this specific issue. People bitch about the DNT on this site frequently, and even sometimes unfairly. But on this specific topic, I’d like to know what people think.

Personally, I think it’s disgusting. I would link to the video for you, but that would only give them exactly what they are transparently after.

41 Comments

Barrett Chase

about 15 years ago

Here is an example of a comment from the story. Please keep in mind that these comments are moderated by the DNT staff.

How long have these "community involvments" going on? Too long. I've had enough of the cowards gathering in groups and talking about stuff and doing absolutely zero. Change doesn't come from walking around the neighborhood. Change comes with targeting dirtbags you see and doing something before they do something. You want to walk around the neighborhoods and feel like you are making a difference? Fine. When you go walking, take a gassed-up chainsaw with you and if you see some hoods following someone or suspicious activity, you start up that chainsaw and use it. That is being pro-active. If you can't handle a chainsaw, get a permit to carry a firearm. Carry a 2x4 with nails pounded through it. Carry a claw hammer through your belt loop. Nothing says "Don't even think about it" like a woodsman's hatchet or bricklayer's in the hand.
Now I ask: Would that comment have been approved as a letter to the editor in the print version of the paper? Would the DNT have printed a letter to the editor advocating vigilantism? If not, why are there different standards of ethics? When the printed version of the paper disappears -- and it will disappear sooner rather than later -- will all journalistic ethics disappear with it? Is there anything we as citizens can do to demand higher standards from our news media?

farglebargle

about 15 years ago

I dunno, blaming the DNT for showing the blood is  bit like blaming the messenger. There's a fine line between sensationalism and reporting reality as it is.
Newspapers are far more restrained than they used to be. The Minneapolis dailies in the 40s reveled in photos of gory murders and car accidents. Once they ran a photo of a dead policeman who got shot in the head, then the next day a photo of his young son looking at the front page photo.

Barrett Chase

about 15 years ago

Farglebargle, so if photos of your mom's brains were all over the news, you'd be OK with that?

Yellow Journalism went greatly out of vogue in the second half of the 20th century, and with good reason. Now, it has reared its ugly head, and I for one don't like it.

Barrett Chase

about 15 years ago

And as for "blaming the messenger," yes I am blaming the messenger. I'm not complaining that there is crime, I'm blaming the messenger for its utter disrespect.

hbh1

about 15 years ago

The comments are a horrific commentary on our community, and the only reason I'm glad they exist without the editorial standards of the Letters section is it gives us an insight into just how full-on racist and willfully ignorant a too-large segment of our community is. If anything, I want them to keep spewing their bile there, sort of like keeping their hands where I can see them. 

As far as the newspaper's fumbling attempts to gain/keep readers through sensationalistic and even ghoulish stunts like the one above... I'm afraid this is only the beginning. Have you watched television news lately? I haven't. These kinds of microphone-in-the-face-of-tragic-victim "How do you feel?" crap are why. Never mind bloody "This might be disturbing to some viewers" scenes. Ghoulish behavior is in, haven't you heard?

Danny G

about 15 years ago

Apparently you would rather close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears and sing "la la la" when a tragedy like this strikes.

As for that moronic comment from the paper (although, I find it interesting that the "example" used here is obviously the worst possible one that could be found) what is being advocated is not vigilantism.  Vigilantes are generally regarded as people who avenge a crime that has been committed.  What this d-bag seems to be advocating is something very different, and much uglier.

dlhmn

about 15 years ago

That DNT-approved comment asking everyone to go the chainsaw-massacre route really is a new low. Or maybe this earlier DNT-approved comment is even lower:

"Start being proactive instead of reactive and this stuff would happen less and less. Start killing some of these criminals around here. The cops ain't using enough bullets."

---------

Nearby on that DNT comment thread is a note from a moderator:

FROM THE MODERATOR: We don't hesitate to shut down comment boards on stories. We also moderate comments so we can eliminate inappropriate posts on ones we choose to keep open. Allowing comments gives people a chance to share opinions whether others agree or disagree. But it also allows us to gather even more information during breaking news.

----

Interesting theory to justify allowing the bigoted free-for-all... but how much news gathering is going to take place from "Scooby D," "name p,"  and all the other fake names the commenters on that thread have used?

And even if there were real names used - are all those bigoted, hate-spewing, violence-inciting lunatics are the DNT's network of sources in the community?

Chester Dark

about 15 years ago

I agree 100% with Barrett

* I didn't look at the video (didn't need/want to) *

** I refuse to read the comments on the DNT site **

farglebargle

about 15 years ago

Chill out, Barrett. You invite discussion then you lash out at anyone who disagrees with you. Talking about my mom's splattered brains seems pretty low.

Barrett Chase

about 15 years ago

Danny, I WANT it to be reported. Believe me I do. But I think there should be some respect to the victims in that reporting. I think we all know that when someone gets shot in the head, there is going to be a large pool of gore. But do we need to SEE that large pool of gore? The only reason for showcasing it is to attract readership/viewership, at the expense of the victim's loved ones. There is a large difference between a story about a shooting, and gory photos. Like I said, they withhold the name, but the show the blood. This is hypocrisy.

As for the comment example, I have no idea if the example is the worst. When I posted it, it was simply the most recent.

Barrett Chase

about 15 years ago

OK, Farglebargle, you win. Talking about your mom's brains -- which I presume have not been splattered -- is low. The DNT showing someone's ACTUAL splattered gore, is perfectly fine.

But you do have a point. I will bow out now.

Danny G

about 15 years ago

I have not looked at this yet, I admit.  But did they show more than just blood?  I'm confused here.  It's just blood, isn't it?  If I got a paper cut and it started to bleed I'm pretty sure the blood would look the same as the blood of the victim's.  What's the big deal?  Is it the amounts of blood that bothers you?  If so, what is the exact amount that the DNT should be allowed to show?

Also, I have to agree with you, sort of.  You're right.  You don't NEED to SEE the "large pool of gore".  You see it because you choose to watch the story...apparently repeatedly.

And finally, I'm curious.  Are you also against "gory" photographs of terrorist detainees being released to the public?  I assume you are since it's not something we need to see.

Barrett Chase

about 15 years ago

Danny, nice attempt at baiting. If and when you actually die of a fatal paper cut, yes I will be morally outraged when the paper shows your two drops of blood on its website.

"What's the big deal?" -- Danny Golden

Barrett Chase

about 15 years ago

OK, now I bow out for real.

Danny G

about 15 years ago

Bating?  I think you put your comment in the wrong post.  You must have meant the "so right it's wrong" post.

Seriously though...how would showing the blood showcase viewers/readers?  If someone was watching the story and saw the image, wouldn't that mean they already have that person viewing?  In fact, the only place I heard about the images without looking at the actual report was right here from you.  So good job.  You've actually been the one that caused the DNT's story's viewership to go up.


And with that, I'm bowing out too.  It's my birthday today so therefor I'm right and you're all wrong...even if you agree with me.

Brandon Stahl

about 15 years ago

Barrett, without getting to the rights/wrongs of what we've done, I will tell you that the media does not yet have the full name of the victim. Believe me that when we do get that, we will publish it.

Tim K

about 15 years ago

The DNT angle on this story is geared toward the sensational because that's their agenda. They don't care about this community (any more). The Fargo bosses want to see profits and the few souls left behind actually putting out the paper are desperate to keep their jobs in a tight economy. THAT and some seriously flawed decision making by Karwath. I've read the Trib since I was first able to read back in 1964! It used to be a pretty darn good newspaper for a town this size. I let my subscription lapse after the McCain endorsement and only read it on-line. The comments section also exists to fan the flames- not to actually inform.

Paul Lundgren

about 15 years ago

As a sometimes freelance journalist and former newspaper editor, I felt the need to watch the DNT's video, since this ethics issue directly relates to one of my eighteen chosen professions.

My first impression: "That's not that bad, but do they have to show it THREE times?"

I think (or maybe I just hope) that the decision to show the blood wasn't a deliberate "this will get us a lot of page views" decision, but rather a "hurry up and post this without thinking about it so we can beat the TV station's noon broadcasts" decision.

My best defense for why the blood was shown three times is that there wasn't a lot of other footage available -- no mug shot of a suspect, no interview with police, etc. So they repeat the same footage to avoid what's called "anchor drone." 

Now that I'm done defending the DNT, I have to say that Barrett is correct. The blood footage adds nothing to the story and is potentially very painful to people who knew the victim. 

From my own personal experience, I recently had the displeasure of viewing a still-shot from a security video that the DNT published, online and in print, that showed a robbery scene in which someone pointed a gun at my father. It was horrible for me to have to look at that, but most people wouldn't think there was anything distasteful about it. There was no blood. There was no shooting.

In that case, my feelings took a rightful backseat to the need for the image to be published in the hope that the perpetrator might be recognized and brought to justice.

In this case, there's just no use for that blood, and if people who knew the victim view it, they will feel worse than I did.

Calk

about 15 years ago

I just read the comments section and am disgusted. What kills me is that the usual suspects -- obviously born and bred in Duluth, most probably white, and probably afraid of their own shadows if they think the East Hillside is totally crime-infested -- are all foaming at the mouth as usual over "outsiders" coming to Duluth from elsewhere and committing all sorts of crimes in this previously "pristine" city. Puh-lease. This is a horrific crime, it could have happened anywhere where you have people with too much testosterone saying stupid things back and forth until someone ends up hurt or dead. I'm all for free speech and against censorship (for instance, I know what's-his-fat-face mocks me on his podcast, fine, it's a free country -- just don't come near me). But I am getting sick of the DNT flaming the flames by posting these incendiary comments from obviously disturbed individuals advocating violence. If anything happens in that neighborhood because some assholes start taking the law into their own hands per the sentiments voiced in some of these posted comments -- the blood is on the DNT's hands. Not that they care -- as long as they sell newspapers. Tim K is so right, the paper has really  gone down the toilet.

Danny G

about 15 years ago

I've lost track here.  Are we bitching about the comments on the print story on the DNT's webpage or are we bitching about the actually (gasp) showing the horrors of murder?  Apparently we've moved on to the comment section.

What gets me as that everyone loves to point out how these ridiculous comments always seem to come from people too afraid to use their real names and are people hiding behind their computers to spout their hatred.  Often I wonder how much of this ridiculousness is "real" (for lack of a better word).  Because these comments come from folks using fake names constantly, how do we know that they are all from individual separate people spreading their hate?  How do we know that the comments are coming from Duluthians?  How do we know that the comments are not coming from people who just want to fan the flames against the evil white majority in this town by making it look like there's rampant racism?  And lastly, how do we know these comments are even coming from adults (it is summer vacation after all...I wouldn't be shocked to find out that the number of ridiculous over-the-top comments shoot up during extended school breaks)?  The answer to all of those questions is: we don't.  Bitching and moaning about comments from nameless, faceless non-people is dumb, plain and simple.


And calk..."what's-his-fat-face"?  Really?  It's my birthday.  Be nice.

huitz

about 15 years ago

I agree with Paul quite a bit.  I was in Colorado during Columbine.  In that case, the sensationalistic media attitude then was mostly due to lack of a good story.  The video footage was pretty graphic, though there was no exterior motive in that case to demonstrate the footage, like finding the perps, for example (I also experienced the whole Jon Benet Ramsey travesty on TV while there; don't even get me started on how the local police seriously screwed up).

Really, there's no historic precedent that exemplifies good media control, but if people think there is, go ahead and pipe in.  I think maybe the police/sheriff dept/da/etc walk a fine line with this type of thing.

I imagine it's really hard to label a piece of media (news or otherwise) as acceptable to a local demographic.  (No, I don't have experience at all with news work).

IMHO, DNT is looking for new ground, and they are having a hard time finding it yet.  And, this is just good news, maybe?  Generated some conversation here, didn't it.  Wow, that sounded absolutely terrible.

To the OP, let's face it, the local news -- from whatever station (paper's not that bad) -- is positively cheesy. More so in the northland than anywhere else I've lived.  My apologies to those that take offense.

Misty

about 15 years ago

I was disgusted with the video. I would rather have dealt with anchor drone than to have seen that. I also agree that the comments on the website are unusually cruel, and racist. And not just for this story but for any story about crime in a poor neighborhood, or by a minority. I often wonder how the stupid bigots writing the comments are able to even read the paper.

huitz

about 15 years ago

Danny G, it's a blog.  Maybe some people use alternate personalities; Oh my goodness, huitz is some hint of a jungian archetype.  Give it a rest with that one, I would say.  I once thought about writing a program to psychologically evaluate an ip address, and then realized, "What's the point?"

The programming list I frequent have call-ins every once in a while where people say who they "really" are.  But really, the proof is in the pudding.  I'm 35, but your next-door neighbor's kid could be using my "call sign".  I really doubt it, though ;)

Danny G

about 15 years ago

Wait.  So I'm supposed to give it a rest by assuming that all of these ridiculous comments are coming from separate, angry, racist individuals spewing their hatred?  I don't know.  Maybe you didn't understand my point, or maybe I didn't explain it well enough.  What I was saying was all of these people are nameless, faceless, anonymous nothings and everyone who flips out about them need to "give it a rest".

Calk

about 15 years ago

Actually, Danny, I've been thinking about Barrett's original question -- the appropriateness of the DNTV video showing the blood and gore of the victim. It's easy for you to be flip -- you obviously haven't lost someone close to you suddenly and unexpectedly and before their time. I once lost someone close to me suddenly, unexpectedly, and violently. Thankfully, the local newspaper didn't do anything with it. If it had sensationalized my loved one's death, believe me, I wouldn't be making jokes comparing seeing my loved one's blood to a paper cut. I think the DNT showed a lot of disrespect for the family and friends of this man. They can tell the story, without making it even more painful for a grieving family and friends. I just believe in treating the dead with respect.

Danny G

about 15 years ago

Actually, I have lost people close very suddenly, very unexpectedly, and very violently.  Once again (as it seems to be very common for you) you've made an assumption that was wrong.  But that's not the point.  My point of the paper-cut analogy was this.  Barrett seemed to be making it a point to say that there were mass quantities of blood shown in the story.  Not that blood was shown at all...just that the story showed lots of it.  Well, is what is upsetting about this the fact that ANY blood was shown at all, or that a lot of it was shown?  I really would like an answer to that, along with a few other questions that have been ignored.  Should the DNT have not shown ANY photographs for the story?  And when does that line get crossed?  If they are reporting on a fatal car accident and they show the destroyed vehicle is that too far?

And since I have your ear specifically, calk...in a prior post you called me (out of nowhere and completely unprovoked on this topic) you called me "what's-his-fat-face".  Would you not consider those hateful words?  You know, I've heard that hateful words lead to hateful actions.  Should I be worried?

Chester Dark

about 15 years ago

good lord, Danny - go enjoy your fricken birthday....who spends it cooped up in front of a computer just to argue with others?

Danny G

about 15 years ago

I know.  Sad, isn't it?  I'm sort of working while cooped up.  I forgot to request the day off like I normally do.  No new tattoo this year on my b-day.

Not Again

about 15 years ago

Great. More "Hey-I'm-Danny-The-Devil's-Advocate" bullshit. That NEVER gets old.

huitz

about 15 years ago

I think I can answer those questions unbiased.

> Well, is what is upsetting about this the fact that ANY blood was shown at all, or that a lot of it was shown?

Depends on the territory of the populace receiving the info.

> Should the DNT have not shown ANY photographs for the story?

No.

> And when does that line get crossed?

Again, territory.  Graphic publicized photos obviously have a couple of very different effects on people.  For example, we look at a shooting and perhaps some people think God is raining down misery upon his people, or that armageddon (sp?) is now -- again -- upon us, or that justice has been served, or it was a terrorist, etc.

> If they are reporting on a fatal car accident and they show the destroyed vehicle is that too far?

Well, that answer is obvious.

> Should I be worried?

Nah, the blog gives you a debate without physical implications; a bit of a shield, if you will.  That would depend on your choice of words, I suppose.

The thing is, they probably over-did the story because they had no other material.  You'll see this even on CNN.  From what I've seen, this is not uncommon from any news station (yes, I'm well aware that I made the "cheesy" local news comment earlier, but I still stick by it).

huitz

about 15 years ago

On the second answer, that was "No" as a double negative.  The news should report as much as they can, I guess is whay I was saying.  So, yeah, they should have pictures if appropriate.

eco eco

about 15 years ago

They justify allowing ignorant, xenophobic, racist comments as supposedly part of their journalistic research but have so far not posted my comment of several hours ago about their definition of journalism being page hits and all the swill that fits. I guess it's OK to insult people but not the DNT.

wildgoose

about 15 years ago

Not sure how I missed this, maybe because there was just a still shot from another angle, but the "Northland's Newscenter" has video from the scene comparable to the DNTV footage.  

http://www.northlandsnewscenter.com/

If you click on the link to the story there is only a still shot, but the video is on the main page ... on my browser there was actually NO narration, just the footage.  Why?  I don't know.

Calk

about 15 years ago

@ Danny, who wrote, "in a prior post you called me (out of nowhere and completely unprovoked on this topic) you called me "what's-his-fat-face". Would you not consider those hateful words? You know, I've heard that hateful words lead to hateful actions. Should I be worried?"

Danny, your playing the victim doesn't work. We know too much about you and your b.s. Now, like someone else suggested, why don't you run off like a good boy,  enjoy your birthday and leave us adults to continue our conversation?

huitz

about 15 years ago

eco eco,

In a way xenophobic is somewhat the nature of journalism.  It sucks, but seems to gravitate that direction.

udarnik

about 15 years ago

I agree with Barrett's original post.  Showing a victim's blood adds nothing to news.  I don't know why any newspaper provides a forum for comments such as the ones you can find on the DNT site.  It does nothing to advance journalism, public discourse, or civic interest.

Paul Lundgren

about 15 years ago

Following up on Wildgoose's comment:

The Northland's NewsCenter led its 5 p.m. broadcast with footage of the blood that was at least as grisly as the DNT's footage, if not more so.

Paul Lundgren

about 15 years ago

By contrast, Eyewitness News' coverage was much more informative, and not at all sensationalized.

Tony D.

about 15 years ago

Paul's observation on the TV newsbroadcasts make me wonder what y'all think of the Northland's NewsCenter's claim to bring you MORE NEWS NOW. I see the same news on all channels, same copy, read by different folks. Also, I believe their "weather" channel is advertised as the channel dedicated to bringing that more news immediately--so why does it just run the weather?

Or is that just a silly question with obvious answers, and perhaps I should instead ask my fellow PDDers: who do you think is providing the BEST coverage of the "Northland"? Why? (And it better be sumpin' other than your hairpiece fetish.) And is what they provide enough? is it relevant? Unbiased?

Miguel

about 15 years ago

I watched the video and I've seen worse. It was more of a puddle really...

wildgoose

about 15 years ago

I think we've all seen worse.  The original point was it was a new low for the Duluth News Tribune.

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