August 25, 2006
Local life as it is
Letter writers took us to task for two items on our Aug. 24 front page – a story about grain-alcohol sales at state liquor stores and the lead photograph of a young man on a rope swing above the river in Penacook. The complaints were similar: The readers accused us of encouraging behavior dangerous to young people.
The story covered Executive Councilor Peter Spaulding’s efforts to stop state liquor stores from selling 190-proof grain alcohol. A reader in Henniker wrote:
“So, how many students, college or otherwise, will now try and get a hold of grain alcohol?
“I understand your need to inform the public about these types of issues, but is this type of article going to really help?
“Shall we hold the Concord Monitor responsible for any future injuries or deaths caused by the consumption of grain alcohol?”
Of the lead photograph of the rope swinger, a Webster reader had this to say:
“You did it again! . . .
“The young person is in a place he is not supposed to be, therefore trespassing, ignoring the signs and the law. It looks like so much fun. That’s what any other teen would think and some young ones as well. A copycat thing to do. . . .
“This is a dangerous practice, and your photographer, Lori Duff, should use some common sense.”
These readers underestimate young people, overestimate the Monitor’s power to influence behavior and misunderstand our mission.
Young people are bombarded with bad behavioral role models every day: foul and violent lyrics in music, harsh images in video games and movies, cheating and steroid-gobbling athletes, an ad culture that uses sex to sell and values appearance over substance. Somehow, with the help of parents and educators, most kids make it through all that.
You’d have to be a naïve young person not to know that there are a lot of rope swings over our local rivers. Or that there isn’t potent liquor out there. I don’t buy the idea that the Monitor should ignore these things because showing them will somehow give kids ideas they haven’t already had.
We try to make the newspaper a mirror of the communities we cover. It is the job of our reporters and photographers to record life in our area as they find it. We can’t ignore common behavior like kids swinging on ropes because it is dangerous or illegal.
Making such acts off-limits to our photographers would not prevent rope-swinging any more than ignoring a story on grain alcohol would keep young people in the dark about some new evil.
Posted by Mike Pride at August 25, 2006 05:21 PM