Sunday, 3 October 2010

Paper shows humanity in face of heartless posting

The St. Petersburg Times in the US has countered a heartless posting made about a man killed in a hit-and-run accident by doing a full story about the victim to show "that every life matters".

The Times ran a news report on September 12, about how a car struck Neil Alan Smith and threw him off his bicycle on Forth Street. The car didn't stop. Smith, who was pedaling home from his job as a dishwasher at the Crab Shack, struck his head on a light post. He was taken to Bayfront Medical Center. He died there six days later. He was 48. Police have not located the hit-and-run driver.

Shortly after the paper announced Mr. Smith's death on its website, a reader posted a comment stating : "A man who is working as a dishwasher at the Crab Shack at the age of 48 is surely better off dead."

Not surprisingly, web editors removed the comment, deeming it an offensive and insensitive insult to a dead man's friends and family. But the heartless comment spurred the Times to make Mr. Smith the subject of a story to show, in the paper's words, "that every life matters".

Among the things Times' staff writer Andrew Meacham found out about Mr Smith was: "A number of people miss him. He had a small but loyal network of co-workers and friends who are planning soon to celebrate his life." The Times set out to piece together as much as it could of Mr. Smith's life. You can read its story here.

What a wonderful thing for a newspaper to do over such a poisonous posting.

Via Wee Simon on Twitter

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