TODAY'S LETTERS: Readers Respond to Iraq Veteran Suicide Article and NFL Photographer Jackets

By: E&P staff Readers wrote in today about an article we ran about Iraq veteran suicide rates as well as a column about the Iraq logos on NFL photographer jackets.

Press Reports: Another Apparent Iraq Vet Suicide
Great article. I have been curious about this aspect of the war for sometime. I just get the vibe that some of these guys fighting for the US are getting caught up in testosterone driven moments, doing things they would not normally do, then come home and feel guilty when reality sets in.

I hope at some point you do a more in depth report on this.

Jack Jett

Suicide is a problem for individuals who kill themselves, and for their
families, but have you produced any evidence showing that soldiers and vets have a greater rate of suicide than the general rate within the pertinent demographics? If you cannot show this, than why is your story of greater interest than one about electricians across the country who kill themselves?

In fairness, I think the reason why is that these men and women are fighting on our behalf, at the behest of politicians we have elected.

Nevertheless, your story is misleading unless you compare the rate of
suicides and attempted suicides with the pertinent general cohorts. And you failed to do so. Why didn't you consult with, e.g., The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?

I know that the rate of soldier suicides and attempted suicides is less than that of dentists and psychoanalysts, for example, but I don't expect a Mitchell story on these unfortunate deaths.

Brian Sament

How about newspapers fighting fire with fire. Get a bunch of photographer hats with prominent advertising logos--say Nikon and New Balance--to be worn with the vests. Or ... could the NFL be taken to small claims court to seek payment to newspapers for the promotional value of those vests being seen on TV.

Maybe the best come-back would be to make certain any photographs taken of NFL brass or officials are not the most flattering. Decades ago, a local society matron--and friend of the publisher--was giving a photographer pure hell over how she demanded a picture of her taken. He suffered in silence, but lighted the lady so every wrinkle looked like a lion's claw mark and pressed the shutter when her mouth was open and one of her several chins was hanging loose, like a turkey's wattle. My God, but it was an unflattering picture that appeared. (Collusion may have been involved, because the shot was not retouched. Whatever the case, the photographer never owned up to what he had done--unless you count a slight smirk that couldn't be controlled entirely.)

The NFL is behaving like a p.r. agency working with fan magazines that depend upon celebrity interviews and from which the agency can make all kinds of demands for access. Longer-term, this can't help the NFL. In the Twin Cities, for example, the Vikings are pushing for a new stadium, and there's not a lot of public support apparent, at least for now.

All this said, it is a very sad state of affairs when a sports organization doesn't feel the need to worry about massed and focused criticism not only of newspapers but also television stations whose video coverage they are restricting severely.

Wait, a lot of negative publicity--for the NFL--probably perhaps could be gained by a photographer who wrote "NFL Walking Billboard" on the back of his vest. I have to believe this is a photo op that would be jumped on by everyone with a sore fanny over the NFL's restrictions. National publicity--and there's no limit to the slogans that might appear, Sunday to Sunday.

Henry Owen
Edina, MN

Anti-Vest? Then Boycott NFL Games!
Spoken with the elan of a guy with a full-time job.

As outlets for pictures taken with cameras larger than cellphones
rapidly disappear, freelancers should just kiss off their pay and their
future relationships with their newspapers? The average newspaper
assignment editor is going to have a good laugh hearing "I can't do the
game because I object to the required vests." And when he's done
chuckling, one more name will fall off the freelance list.

Similarly, a boycott wouldn't even occur to a staffer. Come on, this is
2007. Papers hold the upper (if shaky) hand and aren't afraid to wield
it. In today's world saying no is a lot worse than neglecting to focus.
Of all the kind, warm and fuzzy words editors use to keep freelance pay
lower than necessary, the most meaningful is the "click" of the
receiver hanging up.

Chris Maynard
Bronx, N.Y.


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