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YOUR VIEW: How We Covered a Columbia Murder

Posted: Oct 25, 2013 5:05 PM by Emily Hauger and Paige Hornor, KOMU Reporters
Updated: Dec 16, 2013 6:21 AM

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COLUMBIA - On October 10, KOMU 8 News posted a photo of a murder victim to our Facebook page, and it sparked discussion both on Facebook and in KOMU's newsroom.

KOMU 8 digital producer Blair Miller took a public photo from Satina Beckner's Facebook and used it to humanize the story and identify the victim.

"That was done in extremely poor taste and should be taken down. If you cannot find a more suitable photo to use, simply do not use one at all," Trista Lewis said in a Facebook comment.

KOMU 8 News had a police mug shot of Beckner from a previous crime she committed, but chose not to use it. MU Journalism Assistant Professor Amy Simons said she would have used the Facebook photo instead of the mug shot.

"To use a mug shot would be casting her in a bad light. It would be inappropriate given the situation," Simons said.

"She was a very beautiful girl but she was also someone's child. You really should have the family's agreement to post a picture in the first place not just take one from her Facebook," Cindy Gipson Briggs said.

KOMU 8 News interactive director Annie Hammock said KOMU did not contact the family, but since Beckner is an adult, it was okay to use her photo.

"The decision was that in this story it was appropriate to use her picture because of the news value of the story and the opinion that it was important to represent her the way that she wanted the world to see her," Hammock said.

Hammock said several faculty members were involved in the decision to keep the photo on KOMU's Facebook and website. There was also discussion about creating a policy about use of photos on Facebook in the future.

"The question was 'should we set a specific policy,' and it was my determination that you cannot set a broad policy, because it really is going to depend on the certain instance that you are talking about, and you should never say never and you should never say always," Hammock said.

KOMU's use of the photo is legal and follows Facebook's privacy policy.

So what do you think? Should KOMU have used the photo? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus. Then watch on Friday nights at six as we report your view of the news.

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