In Idaho, this clown is another toe-tapper

[Wide stance: One of photographer Butler’s favorite shots]

One of the pleasures of editing this blog has been reconnecting with long-ago colleagues, including photographer Chris Butler of the Idaho Statesman. I worked at the Boise daily in 1991-96, before Gannett sold it in a deal that sent the paper into McClatchy Co.‘s hands.

Butler and I spent nearly a week in eastern Idaho’s Dubois, researching a dark topic: Idaho’s suicide rate, historically one of the nation’s highest. My analysis of more than 30,000 death records found the likely cause was a toxic brew of easy handgun access in sparsely populated towns, far from psychiatric care.

Of course, Butler’s work isn’t always so grim. I asked him to pick a favorite photo from his portfolio. “After doing a story about clowns for the paper,” he says, “I came up with this idea for a stock image. I called one of the clowns and spoke to her about the idea. She loved it. So we found an acceptable place to shoot and she ‘tapped’ away. Last year this image took on an entirely different meaning with the whole Larry Craig story. It’s one of my favorite images because it’s hilarious and strange at the same time. The image has been placed with Getty Images for almost a year now and it’s sold very well.”

Earlier: Public service journalism, and long-term dividends

Got a photo to recommend? My Cutlines Only feature showcases website art. From a non-work computer, use this link to e-mail suggestions; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right. Or leave a note in the comments section, below.

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4 Responses to “In Idaho, this clown is another toe-tapper”

  1. Jim Hopkins Says:

    My Idaho suicide investigation was published in the pre-Internet days — summer 1994, I believe — so I can’t link to it. The series might be in Nexis, however.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Claiming guns are a reason for suicide is like blaming motor vehicles for traffic accident deaths.

    ” … a toxic brew of easy handgun access in sparsely populated towns, far from psychiatric care.”

    So if we get rid of the 2nd Amendment ensure we have a psychiatrist in every community then we have solved the suicide issue?

    LOL. It’s writing like that, Jim, that helps most Americans not trust journalists.

  3. Jim Hopkins Says:

    Hola, Wayne LaPierre!

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