The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

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Ashley's Avenue

Creating A Stink!
But not the kind you're thinking.

by Ashley Murphy

I often wonder what goes on up in people's minds. We live in a nation where I often question one's....abilities, for lack of a better word. Something happened recently in which I was called rude and disrespectful and created quite a stink. It wasn't anything bad, at least, not in my opinion. And based on the over 30 supporters I had standing behind me within a couple of hours, it must not have been as horrible as many were making it out to be.

First of all, let me start by saying that I try not to engage in arguments with morons. Especially on social media sites (aka Facebook). It's pointless, and in the end, you dumb yourself down to their level for even giving them attention in the first place. However, I've seen this same complaint over and over and people just won't drop it. Whether it was the mood I was in that day or if their stupidity and complaining just really struck a nerve, I don't know. All I know is that I finally decided to say what needed to be said. I typed it up and hit send. It posted to the picture and....the stink hit the fan.

The picture in question was posted by the local media outlets on Facebook on November 27th. An "official media release" they are usually called. It was a still of a badly mangled car that was involved in a crash at Exit 20 in Cleveland. A passenger died in this particular wreck. I happened to drive past the scene less than 5 minutes after the accident happened, and it was awful.

A car traveling southbound crossed the median and hit another vehicle head-on at a high rate of speed. It shut down the northbound lanes completely and one lane of the southbound side. Like in most large incidents in a small town such as this, a media crew will arrive on scene and report the facts as they are made known. Such was the case for this day as well. A local, small media crew took a couple of pictures, and reported the accident. They simply reported the news. The picture was posted some 8 hours after the accident happened, giving the emergency personnel a chance to locate and notify immediate family of the victim's death.

I'm not a police officer, or firefighter or EMT, but I believe it is protocol to notify the immediate family - if any can be found - before making the victim's personal information public. (If I am wrong, please provide me with information stating otherwise so that I don't make false statements in the future.) But in addition to reading that somewhere I can't recall at the moment, I have also heard of many people filing lawsuits when personal information was released before contacting the immediate family (if any is to be found). "If any is to be found," means the emergency personnel made a considerable effort and only stopped when it seemed no one could be found to notify.

Also, I stress immediate, because I had people basically telling me I was stupid because they found out about nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts or uncles that had died when the news reported their stories. And people whose friends had died were sending condolences to non-immediate family and those people not yet knowing about it. That would be because, it's not the emergency responders job to tell the whole entire family and everyone the person has ever known. It's the immediate family's duty to let the rest of the family and friends know. You could imagine how upset the family would be, so they may not make all of those calls at the exact moment the responders break the news. The media is then given the official report and they start drawing up the news story. Then it is published. Don't blame the news and the emergency responders for the family's grief or for those people with big mouthes who blab the information unprofessionally and inconsiderately across social sites when it clearly hasn't been enough time for the emergency responders to notify the immediate family.

That's where all of the "is a picture necessary?," "it's disrespectful to say the name," "you should be ashamed for showing this picture," etc, etc, etc. If there was a 'slap' button that would reach through these people's computers or phones and smacked them across the face, I would've hit it. That's how annoyed I was. So, I felt that I should tell them not to look at it if they felt that way....

"The emergency workers do NOT release names of victims until the family is notified. As for the pictures, don't look if you don't like it. Maybe it can act as a reminder to be more mindful of our driving habits. Just saying....."

My exact quote. Yes, maybe a little harsh for the situation, but I was trying to get to the point without having to write a lengthy response, but clearly people aren't smart enough to understand. I do believe I probably could've used kinder words, but I was severely annoyed. Basically, the news is set in place to inform. The picture is informative. The facts reported are informative. The picture has a right to be placed next to the story. News outlets do it EVERY single day! Don't look at it if you don't want to see it. However, my problem is that those who are complaining to such a level about the picture being posted obviously were curious and clicked on it to see what the car looked like! And they're going to complain!! Why?!

Another lady said that it's placed on a public page and right in her line of sight and that it can't be helped but to look at. Oh boy.... Okay, for those of you that use Facebook, news stories are typically set in a small link and you must click this to enlarge the picture or open the story in a different tab. The way I see it, her argument is irrelevant. She wanted to see the picture or she wouldn't have clicked on it. Then she comments that the picture shouldn't be there. Why are you complaining lady?! You clicked on it yourself wanting to see it! I guess that makes you just as disrespectful as all these other people you're pointing fingers at.

Another lady said I was disrespectful because I told people not to look at the picture and that I've obviously never lost anyone in a car wreck because of how inconsiderate I was. To the first part, I'm not really sure how that's being disrespectful. And to the second part, I have lost people in car wrecks. Not as many as some, but I have. My grandfather was the first and an ex-boyfriend who I was still close friends with was the second. So, who's the ignorant, inconsiderate one now?

It is heartbreaking. It is an awful feeling. But accidents happen every day. Someone dies in a car accident every day. The news uses these pictures and information as a way to inform. I do have a problem with rubberneckers and those who just think it's cool to look at, out there snapping pictures and posting it all over the Internet saying, "Look what I saw, how cool is that?" Or if they think they know who the deceased is as they drive past or if the news posted a general view of accident site and someone thinks they recognize the car and starts posting it all over social sites saying someone died or something along those lines, before the emergency workers can even identify the victim themselves, isn't right! That's disrespectful beyond words.

To keep myself from rambling on, because, believe me, I could, I'm going to wrap it up and say (again) don't look at the pictures if you don't agree with them; don't watch that news channel if it's showing something you don't want to see; don't read the paper if you don't like what they print; don't click on the link, knowing what you're clicking on, if you're just going to complain that it shouldn't be there.

I stand by what I posted. Sorry. I guess all you hypocrites out there that don't like it should say a prayer for me as well since I'm so disrespectful and shameful. I'll do the same for you.

God Bless!


Ashley Murphy
People News Assitant Editor

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