Was the Tammy Haas story the Press & Dakotan ran recently in poor taste?
That was the argument made in the following letter I received after the story was printed. Read it for yourself:
Dear Mr. Johnson,
I have to write this to tell you how the front page of 4-14-12’s paper was in very poor taste.
How does Tammy Haas’ family rate to get the front page like that — with a huge picture of her?
There are a lot of families who have had tragedies over the years and are able to give most of their pain to God. Apparently, the family can’t.
You are not helping them by catering to them in this way! There are local Yankton and Tabor families who have lost their children and husbands to the war, and there is no mention of them anymore. And that was only a few years ago! Those men/boys died as HEROES!
The front page of the P&D should’ve held the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic! That was an historical moment in our history and would’ve educated many young people in our community!
I, too, have lost a loved one at a very young age in a similar tragedy. I gave my pain to God and am able to go on and not think that everyone in this town owes me something!
— An Anonymous Yanktonite
This probably won’t surprise you, but I disagree with the letter writer.
It’s true that there are plenty of area families that have been struck by tragedy, including those who lost loved ones in Iraq. We’ve written extensively about those losses and certainly sympathize with them.
The reason we chose to do a story on Haas is because to this day the details surrounding her death 20 years ago are a mystery. Many in the community believe someone is still out there who knows what happened on that night in 1992. Local authorities hold out hope that one day they will be able to provide peace to the family, even though no new compelling evidence has emerged for many years.
I remember speaking with former Yankton County Sheriff Dave Hunhoff about the Haas case a year or two before his retirement after more than three decades in office. He said it was the one case he would most like to solve before he retired. Unfortunately, he didn’t get what he wanted.
Because of the lingering mystery, it is a story that continues to resonate with the people of this area today. It is also why the family continues to talk publicly about their loss. They hope the details will emerge.
That is the reason we felt this story deserved the treatment we gave it. In fact, I worked very hard to make sure the story was in good taste. It took me most of a day to get everything crafted the way I wanted.
If the writer of this letter thinks his/her sentiments are in good taste, I would encourage that individual to submit a signed letter to the editor that could be published on our editorial page.
I offer my sympathies for the writer’s loss, but this is a case where we will have to agree to disagree.
Any thoughts on this, readers? Do you think the story was in poor taste?