Letters 6.6.13

Saddened and ashamed
I AM saddened and ashamed to think I belong to the community described in the front page article in last week’s Herald (“Brutal killing shocks leafy East Fremantle).
I wish to register a strong protest firstly about the untrue and hurtful statements made about Reuben and his family.
This article by its tone and in content is a violation of their privacy at this deeply sad time in their lives.
The article uses speculation to hype up the as yet unknown facts about the sequence of events leading to Reuben’s tragic death and for no apparent end other than sensationalism under the guise of caring about the family and our “shocked” community.
This sort of journalism fails us as a community. It neither provides facts—because nothing had been reported by reliable sources at this stage—nor does it unite us as a community in compassion for the family.
It actually creates a division, between those who know and care deeply for the family and those who falsely imagine any suburb is free from the vissisitudes of life in our complex society, where the vulnerabilities of ordinary people are not always able to be met.
I hope to read an apology not only to the family but also to our community whose values have been falsely represented here.
Sue Gawned
Hamilton St, East Fremantle

I AM appalled the owner of the Herald, Andrew Smith, took it upon himself to write such a piece which could only bring further distress and harm to a family and community that are already grieving.
It was an invasion of privacy at a time when privacy is paramount. It made slurs and innuendo about a person who cannot defend himself, interspersed between irrelevant information about his parents. It was gratuitous gossip. The Herald has shown a horrifying lack of compassion, respect and judgement.
I hope the Herald writes an apology to the Stack family and East Fremantle residents.
Lyn Isted
Oakover St, East Fremantle

Appalled too
I WAS appalled by the article on the front page of the Herald this weekend about the murder of Reuben Stack. The tone of the article was disgraceful and the reporting of unsubstantiated rumour was not news, but simply recycled gossip.
The police are investigating this crime and have released very little information, as evidenced by the lack of reporting in the West Australian and Sunday Times since the murder on May 21.
Until the police release further information, speculation as to the reasons behind the crime is pointless and possibly counter-productive.
I can not imagine what motivated Andrew Smith to publish such a tawdry article: it certainly had no news nor public interest merit. The hurt inflicted on Reuben’s family however is enormous.
The Fremantle Herald has sunk to new lows.
Maureen Flynn
Allen St, East Fremantle

DISGUSTED to read the scandalous article about the recently deceased young man, Reuben Stack and his family.
It is a sensationalistic, and totally unsupported story, written without any hint of proof.
How could an editor approve this cruel treatise on a family which has just lost its son in such a shocking manner?
I am sure it is a matter for legal action, as it is without doubt slander.
Jovita Fulwood
Quarry St, Fremantle 

I WAS dismayed to read your front page article about Reuben Stack’s death. This was a most opportunistic, insensitive and hurtful repetition of street gossip, speculation and innuendo.
You obviously do not recognise that such rumour-mongering will further hurt an extremely distressed family and community. As a friend of some 40 years’ standing with Reuben’s parents, I feel incensed and saddened this was published. Such comments have no place in any newspaper.
Damien Flynn
Allen St, East Fremantle

Shocked and saddened
WE have all been shocked and saddened by the loss of a beautiful young man—Reuben Stack. Everyone (yourself included ) wants to know and understand how such a thing could happen to a much loved Fremantle son .
Your front page article however, was speculative and sensational—just a step too far and certainly very, very hurtful to the Stack and Kenny families. Let’s just wait until the facts, the real facts emerge and not inflict further distress on an already grieving family.
Carl and Diane Payne
Bostock St, White Gum Valley

Shocked and angry
I WAS shocked and angry when I saw your front page article about the very tragic loss of Reuben Stack (Herald, May 30, 2015).
Only those who have livedthrough and survived the loss of a child will have any comprehension as to the magnitude of the grief and loss in those early days, weeks and years. For a newspaper to intrude on a family’s private grief at this time is incomprehensible and beggars belief.
Why should a family which is grieving have to put up with such hurtful media speculation and the invasion of privacy that accompanies it. What can an article such as yours hope to achieve, apart from upsetting a deeply grieving family, their friends and wider community.
My heart goes out to Reuben’s family at this very sad time.
Helen Emery

I WAS quite surprised by the gossipy tone of your article last week. For such a “professional, educated and political establishment”, I would have expected the local news to be of a higher journalistic and ethical standard.
While I now live in the not so “leafy and wealthy” surroundings of Manning, I strongly value the strong sense of community and friendship within my former home town. This article is quite at odds with that community spirit.
As you alluded to, mainstream media outlets did not publish any details about Reuben’s death (other than a handful of short online articles), yet the Herald published this piece, which was light on facts, and punctuated with gossip and rumours.
The police investigation is obviously ongoing, and in my view, speculating about the circumstances of Reuben’s tragic death does not serve any purpose, other than perhaps your own sense of schadenfreude.
I hope you publish an apology to the family for this damaging article.                      .
My thoughts are with Reuben’s family and friends.
Sian Brown
Henning Cres, Manning


I WAS very disappointed to read the Herald’s account of the recent tragic death of Reuben Stack. I knew Reuben, know the families concerned and also know Andrew Smith the owner of the Herald and author of this article.
I feel Andrew has missed an opportunity to set a respectful tone for community consideration of this sad event. I recognise the death of a local young man, during daylight and in our midst, is a front page news story; as is the ongoing police and media presence in our usually safe and peaceful suburb. It has rattled us and it is natural for people to speculate.
However, it behoves any journalist of merit to report such an event with measure and restraint; to keep to the facts and to allude to speculation without giving air to it. The decision to publish emotive speculation which defames the character of the victim is likely to cause additional distress to an already grieving family. It adds nothing positive to the community conversations that will inevitably fill any information vacuum.
If we do not demand high-calibre journalism from our local newspaper, we risk creating a local community that is happy to accept sensationalism over respect.
I therefore request that on the front page of the next edition of the Herald, you acknowledge that on this occasion you erred in your judgement by publishing such an emotive, speculative and sensational commentary.
Lynne Ward
Bolton St, East Fremantle

SHAME on you Andrew Smith for the way in which you have abused your overly elevated position as a journalist, editor and owner of the Herald.
The article you wrote contained no fact in relation to Reuben’s life.  He was a caring and valuable member of a large family who loved him very much.
In a callous, sensationalistic attempt at a storyline you have caused further pain to an already immensely suffering circle of his family and friends.
You have also made presumptions and entertained rumours which devastatingly tarnish a lovely young man’s reputation within the wider community.
I rarely bother to read your opinionated personal soapbox of a newspaper. Your article has ensured future editions will find their rightful place at the bottom of my recycling bin, unread.
Nat Marks
Treeby St, Coolbellup

Emotive opinion
OWNERSHIP of a newspaper should not entitle you to report as a journalist.
Andrew Smith’s front page story was emotive and should have been in the opinion section if it was allowed to be published at all. It was not even appropriate as an editorial.
I am presuming the rigors of ethical journalism were applied and a lawyer consulted. If so, you got the wrong advice. I hope this sensational article does not prejudice the murder inquiry nor cause further distress to the family.
Sue Wallis
Bolton St, East Fremantle

You were wrong
AS a local paper, the Herald plays an important role in providing news and information for its readers.
And I know from personal experience the Herald and its owner/editor have made a major contribution over many years in educating and employing young journalists to fulfil this public service.
However, you were wrong to publish the article written by Andrew Smith on the tragic death of Reuben Stack.
The article may have superficially presented as some sort of salve but in fact it was replete with scuttlebutt, gossip, innuendo and speculation.
It contributed no new information, no new facts and contained no new sources.
The raw details had already been published in other media.
It would have been prudent of the Herald to delay publication of any article on this matter until such time as new, factual information in the public interest became available.
All the article has done at this time is exacerbate the grief and distress of the immediate family, extended family and the families’ wide circle of friends.
You will be aware of journalists’ ethical responsibility to “respect private grief and personal privacy” (Australian Journalists’ Association Code of Ethics) and the Australian Press Council principles on fairness and balance in reporting, respecting “reasonable expectations of privacy” and not contributing materially to the distress of people being reported on.
There is no overriding public right to information in your article that would justify the breach of these ethical guidelines and principles. Yes, as you said, Reuben “did not deserve to die like this”. And neither did his grieving family deserve an article like this that has simply compounded their distress.
Lawrence Apps
Beard St, Beaconsfield

We deserve better
YOU’RE absolutely right Mr Smith, no young man “deserves” to die, but nor does his family deserve to be affronted by sensationalist “speculation” while they grieve.
Our community too deserves better reportage. Can we also include those who are not “professional, educated and political” when we refer to our neighbourhood? And might we have facts and less “speculation”?
Josephine Clarke
Tuckfield St, Fremantle

Uninformed and insensitive
REGARDING your sensational front page article about the death of Reuben Stack, I was stunned that you of all people, Andrew, could write such an uninformed and insensitive piece.
There seemed to be minimal consideration for the family’s feelings and even less for the facts. At this point the facts are not clear and speculation and innuendo are unhelpful and extremely hurtful.
Lorraine Sweetman
Fothergill St, Fremantle

Terrible article
MY mother knows the Stacks and I dare not let her read your terrible article. This boy has just at been horrifically murdered and you are speculating about his character without speaking to his family? Shame on you, Herald.

The Queen of the Terrace
THIS last week I received here in South Africa an email from my sister in regard to the passing of Mrs Tagliaferri, that wonderful woman who was for many years the Queen of South Terrace.
I first met Mrs Tagliaferrri in 1977 when I moved to Fremantle and it was a very different place then. I had the bright idea to make pancakes for breakfast and really wanted some genuine maple syrup, not easy to find in Freo on an early weekend morning in 1977.
Someone suggested I try Interfoods and sure enough, on a bottom shelf tucked away was just the thing I needed, along with many other things I discovered I also “needed” and could not leave the shop without.
I saw all those delicious cheeses and meats at the rear of the store and became a regular buyer of boxed, bottled and canned treats along with the yummiest lunch rolls ever.
I struck up a friendship with young Peter who worked in the store and although Mrs Tagliaferri did not say much, over the ensuing years she always greeted me warmly and I am sure tucked a little extra cheese into my rolls. She always gave good value for money, which cannot be said of many places in Freo today.
She was a proud storekeeper, servicing her customers well and she had a sense of civic pride as she swept and hosed clean the footpath outside her store every day, leading by example the other businesses along the Terrace and just a look from this dynamic woman had them all scurrying for their brooms and hoses. Perhaps this is why her business did so well?
She was a great example of a small business owner who understood that hard work, long hours and high standards were the norm for business success. Have we lost sight of these basic facts?
Many mornings over the past few years I have stood in the Terrace looking at rubbish-strewn, dusty footpaths wishing she were still here to show us how to care for and prosper in our city. Her passing is a loss for Fremantle. My condolences to Peter and his family.
Micko O’Byrne
Rourke’s Drift, South Africa

Wrong plants a weedy waste
YESTERDAY I watched a contractor from the City of Fremantle chop back all vegetation on the road verge in front of the apartments on Leighton Beach. It seems the sedges planted in between other plants had grown too big and taken over.
Sedges are wetlands plants not meant for road verges.
It must be costing the council money to have these chopped back every year. This is something all councils and contractors do, putting in the wrong plants.
Years ago the City of Melville planted ivy as a ground cover all around the recreation centre. What didn’t climb up the tree eventually died. This meant more money had to be spent replanting, which has now been done with native plants.
We have lovely grevilleas which provide food for our honeyeaters and blooms but councils seem to have no care for wildlife. It seems councils now just use mulch on verges instead of plants as it’s easier.
You would think that with all the people who work in the environmental department they could get it right. The actual decisions are made by the well-paid people at the top and greening our suburbs is beyond them.
Brenda Taylor
Bridges Rd, Melville

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