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I am writing to protest your treatment and coverage of the fire in Currier House on Friday night.
Your quotation from Susanna Kirk '95-'97 was clearly taken out of context from a shocked and upset victim of a horrible circumstance. Her statements were never intended to be taken literally, much less quoted. As a witness to your interviewer's obvious inexperience and horrible interrogation of Ms. Kirk, e.g., "How does it feel to know that your room is burning up right now?" I am appalled by his complete misunderstanding of sarcasm or wit. I admit that Ms. Kirk should have known better than to trust The Crimson with a chance to use swear words in a front-page story. (I do wonder how your alumni readers as well as parents who subscribe to your newspaper react to your casual use of "mother fucking" on the front page.) Nonetheless, I feel that your reporter, or at least an editor should have taken more care with the victim of such a disaster and aimed for a more empathetic story, rather than treating the event as a spectacle.
By quoting Ms. Kirk out of context and without reference to her obvious pain or distraught state you have inflicted even more pain upon her, not the least of which is the reaction of the religious community to her alleged, and false, apostasy. It is unfortunate that in covering the news The Crimson feels that it can recklessly damage the lives of fellow Harvard students for the sake of the story.
This recklessness was further demonstrated by your photographer's request to photograph the burnt room, or at least the rubble from the fire thrown out the window. Yes, people want to see and know. The Crimson is a newspaper and must report the truth. But, it is a campus newspaper and must report it with compassion, discretion and the entire truth. A little more effort on the part of your reporter, editor and photographer, would have helped Ms. Kirk through this time rather than subjecting her to another disaster. --Jeffrey M. Goldfarb '97
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