In the February issue of League City Connection, we published an article about the death of Anne-Christine Johnson, 30, apparently at the hands of her ex-husband, Shaun Philip Hardy, 32.
The article reported in detail the horrific last moments of Johnson’s life. Several readers wrote to us tell how offended and even disgusted they were with the details of the article.
One League City resident, who also is a former prosecutor from Harris County and a former criminal defense attorney and now a law professor, said this: “Does the community need to hear about domestic abuse? Yes. Should it be aware of crime in the community? Yes. But to discuss Anne-Christine Johnson’s final moments in such a tasteless way, particularly since her loved ones may receive this paper — it seemed to disrespect and dishonor her life, rather than honor it.”
It was not our intention to offend readers or dishonor Johnson. Reporter Valerie Wells worked very hard on the story and with the utmost empathy and respect for the family. She had reported the story from the time Johnson went missing in early December. It’s instinct among good reporters to tell all they know. And while it was graphic, Wells never approached the story with sensationalism in mind. That isn’t who she is or who we are. It was always with the idea of telling what Johnson endured.
But we sincerely appreciated the feedback — we always welcome it — and it will certainly influence our approach to crime stories in League City Connection. Readers reminded us that children might have access to this publication. It was an important reminder.
We hope we never have to tell a story like that again. But if and when we do, we’ll approach it differently.
And although many readers were disappointed in the details of the article, they said so in a respectful way. We appreciated that.
We encourage such feedback.