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Jeremy Lee, Published March 03 2009

Coverage of death insensitive, wrong

On Sunday, Feb. 22, The Forum ran a short article about Jason Lee. You did not yet identify him because his family had not yet been contacted about his death. We appreciated you getting the news out about the devastating loss of his life at such a young age. However, we question much of the content and the underlying ethical standards of The Forum for sensationalizing the event and making assumptions about the circumstances and cause of his death, unknown at the time.

First, you got multiple facts wrong. Jason was 33 years old, not 34. This was an honest mistake. What is hurtful is that you cited a police log that stated that he was out drinking. He was in fact out drinking Thursday night, not Friday. This is less permissible.

What, may we ask, does his having a few drinks on Thursday night have anything to do with his death on Friday midday or afternoon, according to the authorities and medical personnel involved? It is unfair and unnecessary to even comment about his drinking on Thursday, which leads readers to believe it is linked to his death, which took place Friday. You should have done more information gathering before going to print.

Lastly, what is most hurtful for a brother, sister, mom, dad, daughter and friends is to read about his body being “cold and stiff.” Most of us know that when life leaves a body, the body is going to be cold and stiff. What geniuses you are to state the overtly obvious facts here. At least you got this part right. Congratulations!

However, before printing such dramatized content to catch people’s attention, we strongly suggest that you consider what it might feel like to read such descriptive terms if the brother who had passed was your own.

By the way, to set the record straight, we heard from the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy that Jason died of a brain tumor.

The writer is Jason Lee’s brother. His sister, Kim Hass, also signed the letter.