Tuesday, October 24, 2006

In a few months as editor in chief of the Collegian, I’ve already gotten to make quite a few obvious editorial decisions.

Exhibit 1: The page one story last week that quoted former UPUA presidential hopeful Jay Bundy comparing his tenure as our student representative to a glorified pile of cow dung.

Quite obviously, I thought runing the full quote, in all of its glory, was justfied given the circumstances of the story.

Agree with it or not, that’s the job of a newspaper editor.

But there’s also been some not-so-obvious decisions you might not have noticed – ones for which I had to take time to weigh the pros and cons before coming to a conclusion.

Exhibit 2: Yesterday’s article about the eight-hour stakeout in Nittany Apartments that ended in an unfortunate suicide – and the photo that accompanied it.

The photo I decided to go with – which showed the window police broke to shoot tear gas into the apartment – might not have been the photo of the century, but it served a purpose that I thought was important: to visually show readers how police deal with situations like this.

It did the job, and I doubt many readers thought twice about it.

But, you see, there were other photos – ones that showed more than just a broken window and the outside of a building.

Collegian photographer Andrew Lala did an excellent job of covering what turned out to be a relatively big news event. And he came back to the newsroom with photos of blood and gurneys.

Some photos even showed the police and emergency workers removing the body of Philadelphia resident Qwynton Armstead.

They were great photos but I had to ultimately decide whether they were appropriate for the pages of The Daily Collegian.

They weren’t.

In this case, it was better for everyone involved to be as sensitive as possible with our handling of the story. Sensationalism and shock value do not justify insensitivity.