By Tanya Wildt, Heritage Media
Death is messy. The well-known phrase covers the overwhelming emotions of the family and friends of the deceased. To an extent, it also applies to media covering any death.
When a death is as public as that of wing walker and Ann Arbor resident Todd Green, who died Aug. 21 while performing a stunt during an air show Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Macomb County, hard decisions have to be made about what to publish. Since Green’s death was witnessed by thousands in a public setting, it was decided to publish photos of Green as he was falling through the air.
Yes, the photo gave us the chills. Yes, it was a graphic scene. Yes, it will emotionally affect those who saw the accident take place. However, it happened and it was documented by journalists and bystanders and we stand by our decision to originally publish the photos.
In a new digital-first era, however, journalism has changed. Unlike a physical copy of a newspaper, photos and stories posted online can’t be thrown away and forgotten. A digital footprint is left forever.
Over the last few days, the Enterprise has received several requests from family of Green and Enterprise readers to remove the photos from our website, which after much discussion, we have decided to do.
The photos of Green’s accident supported the original reports of his death. Now, they are not vital to the reports regarding his death.
The Enterprise staff also takes into account the feelings of our readers and appreciates any respectful comments regarding our stories. While the Enterprise may make decisions that not all readers agree with, we will always agree they deserve to be heard.
The Enterprise sends its condolences to the Green family during this difficult time.
An attempted aerial transfer of an individual (wing walker) from a Boeing A75N1 Stearman airplane, N49739, to a Hughes 269C helicopter, N7505B, resulted in a fatal injury to the wing walker during an air show performance at Selfridge Air National Guard Base (MTC), Mount Clemens, Michigan.