Last Saturday's front-page presentation was not received well by some readers.
Specifically, a large photo montage of accused shooter Matthew David Stewart resulted in unfavorable online comments, phone calls and letters to the editor.
Stewart is accused of shooting six officers during a Jan. 4 raid at his home by the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force. Ogden Officer Jared Francom died of his wounds the next day.
The comments objecting to the display took several different tracks, but can, I think, be fairly summed up as saying the photo and its size on the page glamorized Stewart and disrespected the officers.
Certainly our intent was neither to glamorize Stewart nor show disrespect to the officers. But as I've written before, perception is reality, and in this case, those are the impressions left with many, so that becomes the reality.
Several points need clarifying here.
The picture was a montage of photos of Stewart at different ages. The image was all one piece, not something that our copy desk and graphics editors assembled here from individual photos. The credit line did not make this clear, but the photo came from a Facebook page developed by the Stewart family. Our editors found the page and were struck by the image. The family did not submit the photo or suggest we run it.
The story that the montage paired with was the first that reported specific details of what happened in Stewart's house during the police search the night of Jan. 4.
The editor who designed the page was struck by the contrast between Stewart's appearance in the photo and the acts he is accused of committing.
"He could be my little brother or the kid we went to school with," she said. "It really is a shocking contrast. I think it showed he's a normal kid with a normal background."
Among those who didn't like the package, she said, were her parents.
One caller I talked with expressed a common opinion that a photo that size should have been of the police officers involved.
"That would be a correct statement of what's important," the caller said.
The size of the image and its location on the front page gave too much attention to Stewart, she said.
"There's too much press given to people who commit crime looking for that type of acknowledgement."
When this caller first picked up that day's paper, she saw the bottom of the page, and the bottom of the picture, first.
"I didn't look at the headline, and I thought (the photo) would be about somebody accomplishing something positive."
A longtime subscriber who talked to another editor thought the photo was in "very poor taste."
"The picture spread was very unfeeling, it was tacky, I couldn't sit there at the breakfast table and look at it."
It seemed almost like a tribute to Stewart, she said, and felt overblown.
OK, so where does the paper come down on all this?
First, no media outlet sets out to intentionally alienate its readers, its customers, if you will. But it's also true that simply by the nature of what we do there are going to be times when people get angry.
This is one of them.
Part of the job of any media is to tell the story. Sometimes that story is positive, sometimes it's not. And part of any story, positive or negative, is telling about the people involved.
The photo montage helped tell the story of Matthew Stewart, in the editors' opinion.
Obviously, a number of you disagree, and for that, I'm sorry that the photo and its display caused that type of reaction. It's also obvious that, in this case, we fell short of doing an effective job of telling that particular story.
And for those readers who felt the story of the officers deserved that kind of treatment, I totally agree.
Since the night of the shootings, the Standard-Examiner has honored the request of the wounded officers and their families to respect their privacy and give them time to heal.
If, and when, the officers choose to speak with the media, rest assured we will be more than happy to tell more of their story, too.
Dave Greiling is managing editor of the Standard-Examiner. He may be reached at 801-625-4224 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.