Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dave Greiling Morning "Behind the Headlines" Column: Our Intent Was Neither to Glamorize Stewart Nor Disrespect Cfficers

We're not a licensed psychologist, but here's what we think nevertheless

There's an eye-opening column in this morning's Standard-Examiner hard-copy edition, wherein Dave Greiling discusses, in his "Behind the Headlines" column, some rather harsh reader reactions to last Saturday's front page photo spread. Here's the lede:
Last Saturday's front-page presentation was not received well by some readers.

Specifically, a large photo montage of accused shooter Matthew David Stewart resulted in unfavorable online comments, phone calls and letters to the editor.

You can read Mr. Greiling's full morning column here:
Sadly, Mr. Greiling's column adopts an apologetic tone. "First, no media outlet sets out to intentionally alienate its readers, its customers, if you will." "I'm sorry that the photo and its display caused that type of reaction. It's also obvious that, in this case, we fell short of doing an effective job of telling that particular story," Mr Greiling says.

We caught that front page montage ourselves when we retrieved our S-E print edition from our front porch last Saturday, we frankly appreciated the human interest angle that that this "ticklish" photo image piece conveyed. Yes, we'll give our hearty "thumbs up" to the journalistic judgment of "the editor who designed the page," and who was "struck by the contrast between Stewart's appearance in the photo and the acts he is accused of committing."

Absolutely no apologies are required from the Standard for running this photo image piece, in our view. This photo display does very clearly and powerfully convey the truth of the matter, which is that the kid in the photos isn't necessarily some kind of non-human demon from hell, but "could be my little brother or the kid we went to school with." "It really is a shocking contrast. I think it showed he's a normal kid with a normal background," Mr. Greiling adds. Yes folks. Shockingly, the suspected "perp" in the 1/4/12 Ogden Shootings story "could be the kid who lives next door." Imagine that.

Hopefully folks, this little kerfluffle won't compel the S-E editors to soft pedal the "human interest" angle, either with respect to this story, or any other emotion-charged news item which might pop up in the future.

Happily though, despite the otherwise apologetic and conciliatory tone, the S-E editors appear to be stickin' to their guns in re this:
The photo montage helped tell the story of Matthew Stewart, in the editors' opinion.
What the S-E editors are experiencing here is likely a particularly accute reader response resulting from a psychological phenomenon known as "cognitive dissonance", we think. When presented with two highly contrasting, but practically plausible "realities," some less sophisticated S-E readers, who've been carefully cultivating a lynch-mob mentality over the course of the past few weeks, couldn't handle the informational dissonance and simply slipped into "melt down mode," we'll propose.

We're not a licensed psychologist, of course, but that's what we think.

So what say our Gentle Readers about all this?


Smattguy said...

Lynch mob...pretty well sums it all need for facts of bombs.... orders or such......hang em high as Clint would say

Danny said...

Thanks for this post, Rudi.  I don't take the paper and would not have seen this otherwise.  I trust the SE knows that your web site drives traffic to them.

I thought the photo spread was appropriate and informational.  There is
nothing to explain or apologize for.  The few government apparatchiks
who called in to complain are persons of little consequence who have no
opinions, but only an animal reflex response.

rudizink said...

You're quite welcome, Danny.  One of my main objects in posting these SE links is to "highlight" stories that are either:

1) Unavailable to SE non subscribers, or;
2) So badly hidden on the "live" SE website, as to be similarly unavailable to average readers who don't have the time in their busy lives to hunt down the most recent SE stories, especially early in the day.

It's nice to be appreciated for what we do here at WCF, Danny!

Thanks, by the way, for your continuing and un-erring support!

Blackrulon said...

That pesky presumption of innonce is all well and good but lurid headlines sell newspapers.

D_Dalton said...

A couple of years ago, I asked a number of my friends, family members, and acquaintances what a "domesticated human" would look like.

The consensus was that a domesticated human would lack the ability to process data objectively, think critically, and would be unable to understand and apply the principle of reciprocity. (Yep, there's a lot larger essay yet to be written here...)

I'm afraid that the dissonance that Rudi so aptly points out and deconstructs is merely a symptom of something much larger.

Rockford said...

I was amazed coming from outside the state that the perp was brought in alive,  after this incident.
No way in L.A. would have this guy made it to trial.

Toadhall said...

I really feel that there is something fishy in the way that this whole thing went down to tell you the truth.  I really don't think we are getting all of the relevant information.  The picture of Stewart actually wasn't shocking at all to me.  I actually figured that he was a veteran.  If the situation required six police officers, search warrants, and announce-and-enter rules, why did the guy work at Walmart?  

The whole of the situation sounds a lot more complicated than they are making it out to be, especially with the end result being how many police officers were injured or killed during the raid.  I completely am reserving judgment on this, and I feel terrible for the officers and families involved.  I still think we are getting a completely murky picture.

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