Rudi MaxwellEditorial

Croak from the editors desk

There was a tragedy in our community this week.

A young boy died in a violent and traumatic accident when he was riding his boogie board and was attacked by a shark in Ballina.

This event affected not only the family and friends of the boys involved but their schools, any of us who have ever swum in the ocean and the wider community, as a whole.

It forced The Echo to revisit what our news values are, something Id also been talking about to Southern Cross University media students.

And the national media showed up.

On Tuesday I had several conversations with people at my former employer, The Australian. I rang the news desk and offered the services of our senior reporter Luis Feliu to cover the police media briefing. They had that covered but asked if we could hunt down the best friend and get his story.

I said no.

The Echo does not intrude on peoples private grief. We could easily have tracked the boy down, shown up on his doorstep and asked him for his story but its not how we do things. We dont have to. Of course all the daily newspapers have run as many gory details as they could find because they believe thats what people want to read. I dont think thats what people want from The Echo.

Whenever theres a list of most hated professions, journalists are either on top or second only to lawyers. People complain about intrusiveness and insensitivity. As a free weekly community newspaper we are in the lucky position of being able to make a choice about how we present news stories and we try to do it with balance, depth, objectivity, respect and grace.

That is not to say we shy away from emotional stories. In our March 13 edition Terra Sword wrote an obituary about Katherine Breen-Kurucsev and was moved to tears as she wrote a memorial to a woman shed known for years and would never see again.

One of the pieces of writing Im most proud of in my career is an obituary I wrote about David Thomas, a man Id known my whole life, and the reason Im proud of it is that Davids wife and daughters told me it reflected who he was.

This week I went to the unveiling of a portrait of Richard Rowed, a solicitor who died last year, and asked the family if they felt it was appropriate for me to take a photograph for the paper. They were kind enough to give their blessing and the story is on page 4.

It is our job to respectfully and sensitively reflect the mood and values of our community. I believe we live in a compassionate, caring society that comes together in times of grief and need.

Our sympathy, thoughts and love go out to the family of the young man who died and his friend who was with him. But our photographers do not.

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