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Brittany Moen, Fargo, Published August 03 2013

Letter: Forum’s insensitivity inexcusable

On July 14, 2007, one of my very good friends, Whitney Carlson, left this world tragically and suddenly. Most of Whitney’s friends, just young teens at the time, were faced with coping with our loss, and facing our own mortality. Within hours of Whitney’s passing, a media frenzy ensued.

Among the media obsessed with getting the “first updates” and “newest comments” from family and friends was The Forum, which pushed with persistence to keep the face of my friend on the pages of the newspaper, detailing “the developing story,” and failing to be mindful of the grieving process. For months, grieving for Whitney’s family and friends was hindered by the relentless media, namely The Forum. Sisters, best friends, a mother, a boyfriend, among so many others who loved Whitney, watched as the media took the story of our new angel and turned her into an episode of “CSI.”

It has been six years without Whitney in our lives. I, among others, could tell you all about the girl who would always offer a hug, would count down until the next Fargo South Bruins kickoff, or who would sing with you in the car – still to this day. Wounds are healing, and life has carried on.

I walked into work July 30, caught a glimpse of the front page of The Forum, and felt my heart sink into my stomach. I recognized a photo of the white house I would drop my friend off at after school, accompanied by a headline: “A House with a Past.” Reading the article in which the current homeowners were prodded for their feelings on living in a house where a murder had taken place, made me sick to my stomach.

The reporter wrote with such insensitivity about what happened to my friend that you would have to assume she is not from here. I say this because I would only hope that had the writer been in Fargo six years ago – when a beautiful girl was taken from us – she would have the decency to assume Whitney’s family and friends would see this article; and know that there is still a hole that Whitney once filled in the community.

I hope, had the writer been in Fargo six years ago, she would recognize that six years is not long enough to be able to pick up the paper and read some of the things that were written, and not be upset. Whitney’s name is not that of just a victim of a long-ago murder but a name that so many hold close.

I write not just for my own voice but for the voices of Whitney’s family and friends who are tired of asking that “the story” just be left alone, so that we may remember the good memories we were left with. I also write for the voices of those who have gone through a similar situation, to ask that the media exercise empathy.

As far as the article is concerned – disclosure of home history to potential buyers – had the reporter stopped to think six years was not enough, and possibly opted for an example farther from home and many more years in the past, I would have nothing to say. I ask that the editors of The Forum recognize that what they publish hits close to home.

As for the granddaughter who is timid to go into her grandmother’s craft room, I can promise that the room is not creepy. That room is filled with more memories of doing makeup, giggling about boys and other happy times than one would know.