Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Should we have posted Mom's 911 tape?
Got a very thought-provoking email this week in regards to the posting of Michelle Camire's 911 call to police regarding the death of her triplet son, Michael Helgason, on both the Free Press
site and my Mikeoncrime
site.Read the woman's e-mail below, and then my response to her.And then tell me what you think by posing your thoughts below.This is definitely a subject worth having a discussion about. I think it's always important that we in the media take a step back and examine what we do, and how we do it, to see if there is room for change. Let me know your thoughts.THE EMAIL
"You know, I have to state how disappointed I am that you would link to the audio clip of the 9-1-1 call made by Michelle Camire. I think it was a tasteless move by the Free Press to air it, and I think it was tasteless of you to promote it.I understand that this is a newsworthy story. And once more, I understand that the public devours this kind of tragedy. But there's a difference between delivering the news, and sensationalizing a story. Printing the transcript is news. Airing the phone call is sensationalizing. That was most likely the lowest point in that poor woman's life. She was broken and down, so why take the opportunity to knock her once more?On top of airing the phone call, I think it's absolutely disgusting that you, and/or the Free Press didn't see fit to edit out the name of the child. Even the Winnipeg Sun had enough decency and class to remove an innocent bystander from the fray.That poor little girl's world is probably upside down. Her family is going through horrible turmoil, her mother's address has been publicly aired, a picture of the home has been publicized on TV, and then under the guise of 'news story', they throw the little girl's name in. For what purpose?Furthermore, whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Everywhere you look, this woman has been exploited and exposed. When you have cases of rapists and pedophiles, you don't see the names of the accused. Why is this so different? Often times it's to protect the names of the victims and the innocent. Wouldn't the young daughter fall into that category? You can't print the names of young offenders, heaven forbid. But feel free to shine the spotlight on a grieving mother and her family, all just to sell a newspaper.I really thought better of you, and your paper."MY RESPONSE
"I certainly can appreciate where you're coming from on this and fully respect your opinion. I do, however, feel there is a valid news reason to hear the tape. It paints a picture of the mother's state of mind at the time of the alleged crime. Some people may think she callously and without regard killed her child. The tape may provide some insight - or even sympathy - for her plight.I'm very aware of the need not to exploit. I didn't post any of the Virginia Tech madman's videos. To me, that's just inviting copycats, exploiting a tragedy and putting him up on a pedestal.I don't see Michelle Camire's case the same way. Nobody's going to hear the tape and want to do as she did. If anything, this case and the coverage on it may help other mom's and parents struggling with similar issues to reach out for help before its too late.As for the child's name - I think its important he be remembered and recognized as a victim here. Why should he just be a nameless, faceless victim? Attaching a name, I believe, makes it more real. And makes him real. And not just a sad anonymous statistic. Regards."