Printed Letters: May 30, 2014
to Collbran slide victims
On Sunday, events were set in motion that set up the small town of Collbran to be international news by Monday. A mudslide of indeterminate expanse (reports have indicated that it ranges from half a mile to two miles wide, to three to four miles in length) resulted in an exhaustive search for three missing community members.
On Wednesday, the headline of the front page Daily Sentinel story — the one everyone walking by a newsstand could see — regarding the Mesa Country Sheriff’s office decision to call off the search due to unstable conditions, essentially relegating any further efforts to recovery rather than rescue, read “Tomb of mud.” As a professional writer myself, I understand the urge to use shock to sell papers, but I don’t think you understand who is reading that headline.
Collbran is a small, remote mountain community much like any other small, remote community in the country. The kids all attend school in the same building, kindergarten through 12th grade. This is the same building, in many cases, in which their parents also attended K-12. The volunteer firefighters and paramedics are mechanics, business owners and teachers in the school. The business owners sit on the school board and bake cookies for bake sales. It is a small community that has been that way for more than a century.
The men involved in the slide that most likely took their lives were more than husbands, sons and fathers within the immediate families they left behind. They were respected men in their community. They were caretakers of their community. And they were friends of their community. So, their loss is not one that is felt exclusively by their families but by hundreds, potentially thousands of people across the country. News of the missing men spread across the social network, being shared with and by former members of the community as far away as Florida and Pennsylvania. The men in your so-called “Tomb of Mud” may have been little more than a headline to the staff of The Daily Sentinel but to a small, remote mountain community, they were much, much more and their losses will be felt for years to come. Your crass, macabre headline was distasteful and dishonorable to three men who deserve a great deal more. I’m not asking for censorship or for mollycoddling. I am simply asking that the media of Grand Junction, also a small, remote community, offer the respect earned by these men and by the community that will mourn them.
‘Tomb’ headline heartless and disrespectful to families
First, The Daily Sentinel’s headline, “Tomb of mud,” was disgusting. This must be why newspapers are dying. It was heartless. It’s one thing to get the facts wrong, but to insult the families of the fallen with this unimaginative headline was unacceptable. You should retract the headline and personally apologize to the families.
Wes, Clancy and Danny are their names, not just “the three men.” They gave their lives for their community. You’d probably know nothing about sacrifice, sitting in your nice offices protected from weather and other outside dangers. God bless their families.
Athletics at CMU appear to be a higher priority than books
While in Grand Junction last week, I picked up a copy of the Sentinel and read the article in the sports section about two sixth-year senior baseball players being recognized for their on-the field abilities. Why are we celebrating student athletes who take six years to graduate with a four-year degree? To me, this is an embarrassment rather than cause for celebration. Are athletics at CMU a higher priority than academics?