The <i>CJ</i> will now cover accidents a little differently

Jeff Neal

We often get used to doing things the same way, over and over again.

And that's in everyday life, as well as in our chosen profession.

We get into a routine, and it's hard to change -- even when we really should.

Sometimes it takes a real eye-opener to make a change. It takes something that hits you smack in the forehead and forces you to look at things from a different perspective.

That happened to us on Tuesday with a horrendous crash at the intersection of Ky. 914 and Oak Hill Road.

The accident claimed the life of a young father named Cody Dixon. He turned 29 years old earlier this month. He worked at the Coca-Cola plant. He lived in Somerset. He graduated from Lincoln County High School.

And he loved riding his motorcycle.

But before we learned a little about Cody-- before we knew who he was -- we rushed to the scene to get the nuts and bolts of what happened in the wreck. It's a part of our job that we do not relish.

And part of the job of a newspaper is documenting an event -- even tragic ones -- with photographs.

We did that on Tuesday, and when we put an early report about the accident online, we included a photo of the crash scene.

The Commonwealth Journal immediately received some heartfelt pleas from family and friends of Cody asking that we remove the photo we used.

And when we took another look at the photo, we tried to see it from their perspective.

What if this wreckage claimed someone close to us? While the photo was not graphic, it did show a close view of the accident scene, complete with the motorcycle and the truck involved.

So we opted to immediately remove the photo from our website. And when we ran a picture in Wednesday's edition, we used a completely different angle that was not as close to the scene.

We realized it was time for a different approach to accident coverage.

From this point forward, the Commonwealth Journal will be sensitive to family members and friends of people who have been injured or killed in accidents. And we will do our very best to document these heartbreaking news events with photos that do not illustrate the wreckage in such a visceral manner.

Some of the most famous photos in the history of news media contain very graphic images that have stayed with us for years.

But this is a community newspaper where we report about things that happen with our neighbors ... people we know ... people we've spoken to ... people we run into at the grocery store.

It's time for a change.

For those of you who liked the hard-news approach we have used with accidents, I hope you understand why we're making this adjustment.

And for those of you who have commented and called -- you have been heard.

JEFF NEAL is the Editor of the Commonwealth Journal. He can be reached at jneal@somerset-kentucky.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jnealCJ.