We read with horror your cover story in the May 5 edition of the Outlook. The death of Ari Blackwood – a happy, friendly, intelligent, loving, and much-admired member of the community – will leave an indelible scar on her friends and family.
The fact you chose to use Ari’s tragic passing, and a photograph of the memorial flowers laid near the site of her death, as a platform for a political discussion about an overpass across the Trans-Canada Highway is a horror of a much different kind.
We find your utter lack of sensitivity to be troubling, at best, though our feelings can better be described as repugnance.
We would have hoped as one of the media voices of a small and tight-knit community, your article would have instead focused on Ari Blackwood herself, the young woman whose life was so tragically cut short that morning. The hundreds of community members stricken by her passing would have had some tribute to fall back on in their grieving, not the least of which are her parents and sisters.
But you didn’t.
In fact, your angle in the article was dehumanizing and insensitive. Your lead paragraph off-handedly insinuates Ari’s death is nothing more than a vehicle for bringing ‘significant attention’ to the pedestrian-bridge issue. Shame on you.
From a journalistic standpoint, your story is massively flawed. The only sense of grace in your disastrous front-page story was the eloquence of Mayor Sean Krausert. Rather than dignify the bridge issue with a response, he chose to offer his condolences to Ari’s family. You may well have learned something by mimicking him.
There will undoubtedly come a time when the issue of a pedestrian walkway over or under the Trans-Canada Highway demands front page attention, but this certainly wasn’t it. The only conversation we would hope the town is having at this particular moment is about supporting Ari’s family as they navigate this unimaginable tragedy.
By failing to recognize that critical distinction – not to mention the extraordinarily poor professional insight you showed in publishing tasteless photos on your website on May 1 – you have lost the confidence of these particular Canmore residents with respect to representing one of its primary media outlets.
Mike and Caroline Vlessides,