A response to the story of two infants

6

We have seen the response to our story about the recent deaths of two infants, and would like to address many of the comments on our site, and on local social media.

We included details about the ethnicity of two children who died recently that, while relevant to us in a developing story, might have confused our readers and led them to assume we meant something we didn’t. We are very sorry for that, and for how many people were hurt or offended by this.

Editor George Brennan and I gave much thought to the decision of whether to include the ethnicity of the infants. It was an unusual coincidence, and that coincidence raised so many questions that we felt it was relevant. We ran the idea by several trusted sources, including some in the Brazilian community, who agreed we should include this detail. We never intended to imply that the parents were under investigation by the police, and were surprised to find people interpreting it that way. We are seeking answers to the events leading up to these tragedies, to explore why they happened to the people involved — whether language barriers played a role, for example — and how such tragedies might be avoided in the future.

We’ve been surprised that people assumed that by including the ethnic group of the families involved in a story that also mentioned an investigation by the D.A. that we meant to imply that these families were guilty of a crime. A district attorney opens an investigation any time there is an unattended death, which was mentioned in the story.

And though we are following several threads in our reporting that might help explain such a tragic coincidence, we could not share these thoughts without more on-the-record reporting. We can see now that readers were left to draw their own conclusions about why the families’ ethnicity was included, and we understand why that was confusing.

We can see that without sharing with readers the questions that were raised by these two deaths (and our search for their answers), we left part of the story open to interpretation. Where we sought to be precise, we opened the door to ambiguity.

We are sorry.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you , MV Times for some clarification about what you were thinking on this story.
    But, I just read all the comments about this in the comments section. I do not see any comments from your readers that imply that you somehow implied that they were guilty of a crime. I certainly did not think that, nor did any other commentor say anything about it. Of course , you have plenty of other places where you get feedback.
    I personally think the Times is an honest broker of “real news” , and I was somewhat appalled at the comments that used words like “disgusting” “racist” and accused the Times of a “lack of compassion” .
    I don’t think so– Sometimes we need to take a deep breath, and try to understand all points of view.

  2. I appreciate the apology but it sounds a bit tone deaf. There were some emotional responses but none asked if the parents were being investigated. Most were upset that the families were identified as Brazilian for no known reason.
    In their response the Times states that they ran the article by several members of the Brazilian community. The Times must be aware that not all Brazilians think the same way.
    Stating that your readers were confused is insulting. I believe the Times is confused or maybe just still doesn’t understand why their readers are angry about the way the story was reported.

  3. There are many more Times-bashing comments from the commity on social media, particularly Islanders Talk. I even saw a link to a protest petition accusing the writer of the article of being racist and demanding an apology. I certainly also questioned why the ethnicity of these two families was mentioned, but when it was brought to my attention that it could have been a language barrier or other issue that could have contributed to the tragedy of two families losing their precious babies, it made sense to me. Thank you for this clarification and again, my deepest condolences to these two families.

  4. Thank you MV Times for this explanation. If this discussion prompts action that helps prevent future tragedies such as has occurred to these unfortunate families, then the controversy is well worth it.

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