PATHOSPHOTO BLOG » photography by Conner Jay

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Publishing a Violent Death

Is it appropriate to publish pictures of the dead? This is a question I wrestled with before publishing the photo above.

Our community is acquainted with death, especially a violent death. The city of Salinas suffered a record high 29 homicides last year, as images from these scenes are becoming a common sight. While many of our images from the newspaper contain graphic evidence of violence, like blood and bandages and grief, we rarely show “the body.” It often is a matter of taste, whether or not the photo acts purely as an exploit of a brutality. We ask what damage the photo can cause? Why publish it?

This photo represents a scene that almost everyone in this neighborhood of Castroville was witness to. As I drove through the streets, neighbors were even walking from their homes to investigate, their curiosity comforted by so many flashing lights. There were dozens of people lining the police tape, and all of them stared into this scene.

While the photo shows an inhuman act, and may disgust and distress the viewer, it is a reality many live with in the Salinas Valley.

Below is the format in which we decided to publish the image. We did not believe the photo was appropriate for out print edition, but we wanted to show it with the context of the whole scene. Sgt. Rick Statham of the Monterey Sheriff’s Office provided the narration for this audio slideshow and recapped the night’s events. The photos are in chronological order from when I arrived.

February 16, 2010 - 8:06 pm

Lenny - Wow man, again these are amazing. Were you worried at all since it appears that the search wasn’t even over? I agree with what you and the paper decided to do. While it is reality and people may be used to it, the paper still has a responsibility to its viewership to censor this reality. Like Kai said though for some reason it seems thata pictures on a screen are more acceptable then in print.

Good shots man you never cease to amaze.


February 26, 2010 - 3:42 am

cjay - Hey Lenny, thanks for the compliments. I haven’t been too worried about safety while covering these stories, mostly because it isn’t random. Out of last year’s 29 homicides, only 1 was non-gang related. And when you’re just trying to keep up with the story, I think you kind of forget about such worries. Funny enough, the arrest and search series of photographs were all taken as I walked back to my car. The scene unfolded literally in front of where I parked (you can see my silver Hyundai in some of the photos), which also made me wait about an hour to move my car.

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