Yesterday, Edmonson County suffered a tragic accident that took the life of a Brownsville woman. We arrived at the scene to cover the incident just like the many accidents we've reported on dozens of times. Upon arrival, we began to document the situation with notes and photos, as per our regular policy.
Seven minutes after the call came in, there were reports of Facebook posts that had already begun to circulate, discussing a fatal accident, none of which came from us. We don't know how anyone knew there was a fatality because at that point, not all the officials had arrived on scene, and we certainly were not aware.
Later, we were asked by officials on scene to advise the public on the situation, and since multiple rumors had been passed around on Facebook and other social media that contained incorrect information, we were asked to confirm there had been a fatality and the road would be closed for a long period of time. We did not release any names nor the makes of the vehicles involved.
Out of the dozens of photos we took at the scene, we published a wide-angle shot of the scene to go with the short update. We felt like the photo was obscure enough that vehicles couldn't be identified but we made a mistake in doing so because apparently one or more of the vehicles were recognized, even though the photo did not show any victims, and the caption didn't list any names.
After a few readers contacted us and suggested that the vehicles could possibly be identified, we agreed and removed the photo. Since Facebook users can easily and oft times eagerly share material, the photo circulated for a few minutes before it was removed and many people were offended. Oddly enough, several of those same offended people shared the photo for some reason, but neverless, we take responsibility for publishing it in the first place.
We never released any names until the Kentucky State Police confirmed that families were notified of the tragedy, but with the photo and the spreading of information by the public, we were informed that some family members were able to put two and two together to discover the tragic news. This cannot happen and we must do our part in the future to keep it from happening again.
As of today, we are implementing a new policy in which we will not publish photos of any serious accidents until we have been informed by law enforcement that the families of those involved have been contacted.
We also would like to make a public apology to family members, friends, our readers, our county, and everyone that was negatively affected by the way we handled this tragedy.
One of the reasons we report information so quickly is because of the instantaneous society we live in. People will like and share just about anything on social media, whether it can be verified or not. We want to get verified information out to the public immediately in order to curb misinformation or slow down rumors, but there's a right and a wrong way to do that, and that's what we promise to improve on in the future.
We hope you accept our apology and we send our deepest condolences to those affected by this horrible event.
-Darren Doyle, Owner, Publisher, and Editor of Edmonson Voice LLC.