Yesterday Blazer's Edge published an article with information regarding the passing of original Trail Blazers owner Herman Sarkowsky. The information in the post was correct but an inadvertent addition to the post may have caused harm.
At this site we restrict ourselves to using photos we've paid for, contracted from national photo services. On sports topics we are well-covered. Our reservoir of photos for other occasions is less robust. My first choice for the announcement of Mr. Sarkowsky's passing would have been a photo of him. We did not have that. Nor did we have access to separate photos of the Blazers logo or a couple of other options. Since photos of active Blazers didn't seem right either, in the end I found a single photo of a row of gravestones without other identifying marks, other than they were crosses. Our photos are usually captioned but that feature was not working at the time. No caption appeared publicly with the photo.
After posting the announcement about Mr. Sarkowsky's passing a Facebook reader brought to our attention that the crosses were not appropriate because Mr. Sarkowsky was Jewish (a fact that I didn't know but probably should have) and further that the unmarked crosses were actually from Germany, at a Second World War soldiers cemetery.
As soon as those dots got connected we took down the posts. Still not having a suitable picture in our feed, we opted not to re-run them. When the same reader further commented about the matter, I reached out to him to apologize. It was a completely unintentional mistake.
I have not heard back from that reader personally but his comment asked for a public apology. We will give that. Our intention in not doing so before now was to not re-offend in making the matter more widespread and distracting than it was on a briefly-viewable, low-traffic evening post. My fear is that this topic will, for some, overtake the proper remembrance of Mr. Sarkowsky on a night that is dedicated to his memory. Neither the post nor this day is supposed to be about us, but about him.
I apologize to Mr. Sarkowsky's family. In no way would I ever want to bring a shadow over the memory of a man who gave so much to all of us. Rest assured, the photo was an unintentional mistake. I lost my mom eight years ago. I still remember it. I don't want this to intrude upon your time of mourning.
I also apologize to anyone who might have seen the photo in conjunction with the story and been disturbed. Our proper purpose was to announce Mr. Sarkowsky's death and nothing else. Intent does not lessen an offense, but hopefully it mitigates its duration somewhat.
If anyone would like to discuss this further or would like a personal apology, my e-mail address is email@example.com. I am always ready to listen.
We will affirm that Blazer's Edge respects and honors the voices of people of all backgrounds, races, faiths, genders, and orientations. I hope the quality and tenor of our work shows that clearly.
--Dave Deckard (firstname.lastname@example.org)