The cultural alienation of the press was recently seen in its least flattering light, when the Associated Press distributed a picture of a grief-stricken father beside the body of his drowned five-year-old son. Originally published in the Bakersfield Californian, the picture provoked a storm of local outrage: within two days 500 people had called to protest the paper’s exploitation of private anguish. One caller threatened to bomb the editorial offices. Bob Bentley, the editor who decided to use the photo, now feels he made a mistake. (Indifferent to community values, the Associated Press naturally does not see the problem.) Bentley confessed at length to Bob Greene of the Chicago Tribune:

Most people were very upset that we had invaded the family’s privacy. . . . I now think it was a mistake to do it. . . . To me this is the strongest validation I’ve ever seen that newspapers are out of touch with their readers. . . . By running that picture we alienated the hell out of our readers, and if we don’t respond to that, we’re stupid. 

Bentley has shown his understanding of reader alienation by writing an apology “to all readers who were offended.” He also demonstrated his awareness of the press’s alienation—by nominating his grisly cheap shot for a Pulitzer Prize.