Alabama newspaper responds to criticism after using a photo of Laquon Treadwell's injury for its front sports page

The Opelika-Auburn News got a heavy dose of criticism after they used a photo showing the goal line fumble by Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell that also shows Treadwell's leg injury he suffered on that play — Treadwell suffered a broken fibula and dislocated ankle on the play and had surgery on Sunday and we wish him a full and speedy recovery.

The newspaper was criticized for using the image that shows Treadwell's leg being bent underneath him as he fumbles the ball. Many felt they could have used a number of other pictures from the game that would have worked just as well — Full Disclosure: for our recap of the game, we used the image above that shows Treadwell being tackled on a play earlier in the game, not the play he was injured.

(WARNING: The image below is possibly NSFW, if you are sensitive to injury images and do not want to see the photo of the injury that the newspaper published, do not scroll further)

The newspaper ran the image along with the headline "FINDING A WAY." In an editorial column from yesterday evening, the paper defended its use of the image after receiving criticism in emails and on social media. While they stood behind the image choice, they did admit that in retrospect they would have chosen a different headline.

However, it was also one of the most crucial plays in a contest between two top-five college football teams. The picture is gut-wrenching. It also tells the story. That's why we chose to run it. As journalists, our primary job is to report what happens - whether by words or photos. Often, what we write or publish is unpleasant. Regarding the photo, this was one of those instances. We did not intend to glorify Treadwell's injury or offend any reader. To any person hurt by our editorial decision, we apologize.

Our staff has already spent several hours discussing Sunday's decisions, and we'll continue to do that in the next few days. If we could redesign Sunday's 1B again, we would. One thing we would do is use a different headline. We chose "FINDING A WAY" because after the game, numerous players and coaches discussed how the team keeps fighting and finding a way to win difficult games, such as those against Ole Miss, South Carolina and Kansas State.

The headline was not meant to celebrate Treadwell's injury. No true fan takes pleasure in the injury. It was a terrible ending for one of the best games of the season, regardless of one's collegiate allegiances. Our newspaper joins fans throughout America in wishing Treadwell a speedy recovery. Our thoughts and prayers are also with his family.

Here is the newspaper cover, via Deadspin.

treadwell injury


The picture shows Treadwell as he is fumbling and his leg is twisted underneath him and the Auburn defender. It is, without a doubt, a very difficult image to look at, and the question is, was the picture crucial to the story?

My answer would be no. There were plenty of other images from the game that could help tell the story without showing Treadwell's injury. The image coupled with the headline, while I believe them when they say there was no ill-will, could be misconstrued as celebrating the injury. As an editor, I would not have run that photo and not have put the writer and the paper under potential scrutiny.

What do you think of the newspaper's decision to run the photo?

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