Newspaper getting heat again over Page One body photo

El Diario Extra, Costa Rica’s version of a sensational tabloid, is in trouble again because it published a photo of a body on the front page.

This is the second time in a month it has been criticized publicly. This time the complaint comes from the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia, the nation’s child welfare agency.

July 19 the newspaper published a front page photo of a dead high school student who had been gunned down at his desk.

The victim, 17-year-old Juan Pablo Salazar Calderón, was still seated at the desk but the upper part of his torso was sprawled toward the floor where his head lay. The newspaper put a small black line across the youth’s eyes. Even by El Diario Extra standards, the photo was graphic.

The shooting was at the Colegio Técnico Profesional Ricardo Castro Beer in Orotina, and a disturbed friend, just short of his 18th birthday, shot himself fatally after killing Castro.

Marielos Hernández Corella, the executive president of the Patronato, was quoted on the agency’s Web page as energetically rejecting this type of publication because it provokes more violence and more pain in people.

She cited the  Código de la Niñez y la Adolescencia as a guide to what the news media should publish.

El Diario Extra last June 24 published another graphic photo. This one was of a soccer star,  Dennis Marshall, bloodied and dead in the driver’s seat of his motor vehicle. He and his wife died when his car skidded on Ruta 32 north of San José and collided with a Mack truck going in the opposite direction.

The Colegio de Periodistas, the journalistic professional group, accused the newspaper of lacking ethics. There was some negative sentiment among the public, too, because Marshall was well-liked.

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