Western Courier Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Stewart came under fire on social media for reporting on a car crash that killed three young adults.
The crash happened southwest of Macomb in the early morning hours of October 16. Stewart, who also works for the News3 – WIUTV newscast, shot video and took photos, all of which was posted to the web.
Stewart said he stayed out of the way of rescue personnel and was careful to avoid capturing images of the victims. He also edited out details that might identify the victims before their families could be notified.
Nonetheless, as he wrote in a column for the Courier, people called him inconsiderate and disrespectful and said he should be ashamed of himself.
Stewart disagreed with those who criticized his efforts, and the Shop Talk panelists believe Stewart did nothing wrong. Jasmine Crighton said student reporters are journalists who deserve to be treated the same as professionals. She said the video and photos he posted were appropriate.
Rich Moreno said Stewart is one of the most honorable student reporters with whom he’s ever worked. He said the video was no different than what might be seen on a professional newscast on television.
Crighton and Moreno both said it appeared some of the comments came from people who knew the victims. While they empathized with those people, they feel Stewart was mistreated by them.
Some of those people suggested journalists should not report on such tragedies. Rich Egger pointed out it’s the job of journalists to convey information and in this case the details that reporters gathered over the course of the day helped quash rumors about the crash.