To the Nevada Sagebrush readers, University of Nevada community and Reno/Sparks community,
On Saturday, May 30, demonstrators set out in Downtown Reno to protest the death of George Floyd and other African Americans who have died at the hands of police brutality. This protest soon turned less than peaceful.
People broke into Reno City Hall, set flags on fire and defaced city property. Since the events, city and state officials declared these acts were most likely carried out by out-of-state groups. The City of Reno also had various nights where a curfew was put in place and enforced for the safety and protection of citizens.
Our reporters on scene captured the events through live Twitter threads, which included video footage and photos. Photos were posted to our website and social media accounts.
Two photographers sent photos to The Nevada Sagebrush after the protests concluded. Of over 90 photos, originally, nine were selected and posted to our Instagram account. These photos were chosen due to their comprehensiveness, avoidance of a photographer’s biases, expression of the diversity of the events and respect of the moment the photo was taken. Photos selected did minimize the number of faces that were recognizable. Additionally, the photos selected did not show many demonstrators faces straight on or depict them participating in portions of the protest when tensions were high with law enforcement.
Since publishing, The Nevada Sagebrush has received messages and comments asking us to blur faces in photos posted on our social media accounts. After extensive discussion with our editorial team and the photographers of the photos, we have deemed the images published reflect the acts taken place and provide an increased context we feel our audience needs. We have made the decision as a news organization to not blur photos of the protests.
Many people have expressed concerns with the last photo in the set, in which a young man can be seen lifting his arms into the air. Since posting the photo, The Nevada Sagebrush has gotten into contact with the young man and has been told he is okay with the picture remaining on our channels.
Despite our decision, one photo has been removed due to the potential age of an individual. It was brought to our attention one of the subjects was a minor, and we do not feel comfortable keeping that photo up on our platforms.
As journalists and as a newspaper, we have a duty to report objectively. If we blur photos of protesters, our mission as a news organization has changed. We are not attempting to advocate one way or another, but simply recount events as they happen.
That being said, we do understand the national rhetoric these protests and riots have continued to be built upon. Reporters on scene did say those who demonstrated peacefully were asking for those inciting violence not to. The commentary heard is similar to messages from various protests across the nation.
Even as student reporters, we still feel a responsibility to cover events as they happen. We want to inform our community objectively. The Nevada Sagebrush in the past has covered topics of national importance and these events are no exception. Local and national outlets across the country have made the decision not to blur photos, and we plan to follow in their footsteps.
As individuals, we support the Black Lives Matter movement and stand with those affected by the violence. As journalists, we have an obligation to cover events as they happen without altering our photos.
We want to continue being an outlet individuals can trust and know they are receiving objective coverage on events affecting/occurring in our communities. We encourage those who have comments or suggestions to reach out to our editorial team at email@example.com.
Olivia Ali, Editor-in-Chief, The Nevada Sagebrush
Andrew Mendez, Spanish-language Editor, The Nevada Sagebrush
Taylor Avery, News Editor, The Nevada Sagebrush
Rachael Jones, Engagement Editor, The Nevada Sagebrush
*Editor’s note: This letter was not signed from the entire editorial staff.