When news breaks, especially when it’s of a serious nature, our staff at the Tri-City Times does our best to compose a clear and concise account of what’s happened while being sensitive to the people involved. We understand that our readers are eager to know what’s happened and we know it’s our duty to deliver it to them in a timely manner. Thanks to our website and social media, we can deliver that news in a matter of minutes and that’s what happened last week when word came of a fire and the discovery of a man’s body behind an Imlay City restaurant.
Our seasoned reporter, Tom Wearing, went to the scene and talked to the appropriate authorities, allowing us to post a short account of what was known. Commenters on the story’s Facebook post started to speculate immediately on what might have happened and who the victim could be.
It’s unfortunate that family members of the man found out about his death through comments on that post before they could be officially notified by the authorities.
It’s understandable that people are curious about who is involved in these tragic situations but to put a name out there or speculate who it might be can appear to be very insensitive and upsetting to family members and friends.
Similarly, we hope that commenters who speculated on foul play or other possible scenarios took the time to seek out an update on the story and learn there was no threat to the community. Although it will likely take several more weeks unil the results of an autopsy and official cause of death are known, Imlay City Police believe Mr. Friday was overcome after starting a fire to stay warm on what was an especially cold morning.
As reporters we have an obligation to keep our community informed and we ask that consumers of that news consider their obligation to the community too and use that information carefully and consider that there are real people and emotions behind the photos, stories and headlines.