Thursday, May 28, 2009

Guns and kids and a horrible tragedy in Bakersfield

Was saddened to read Steve Swenson's story in today's Californian about the 2-year-old boy who was shot to death by his 3-year-old sister in Southwest Bakersfield. The girl found the gun, a 45-caliber Glock, stuffed between the mattress and the boxspring of her parent's bed and, in fooling around with it, accidentally shot her brother. There's never a good way to tell this story without being accused of sensationalism. I received one call from a man who was disgusted that we ran a picture of the mother with the girl, and he also accused us of insensitivity with the headline, which read "Girl Shoots Baby Brother," followed by a readout that started with the word "Tragedy." I don't have a problem with either the headline or picture and thought both the reporter (Swenson) and the folks who laid out the page did a fine job. The story took pains to talk about how guns should be safety stored away from children and noted the tragic consequences that follow when that doesn't happen. I also wondered what prompted the family to feel the need to keep a gun at bedside. How bad is crime in their neighborhood? Had they been victims before? It is certainly true that there is a sense of real fear out there amid this lingering recession. Cars are being stolen and homes broken into in the nicest of neighborhoods. Would welcome any comments on this story.


Barbara Reid said...

Based on the news of late, if the Californian starts worrying about sensitivity we won't have a paper to print. Such an incredibly sad story. Perhaps the raising of safety awareness outweighs other concerns this time.

Anonymous said...

You are always going to get complaints from someone on stories like this. I don't see how you could NOT print this story. It is your job after all, isn't it?