Caught between tears, tissues, and the reporter’s notepad.

By: Heather Hale

You just had the worst daFamily Member of Flight 3407 Victimy, nothing seemed to go right and all you want to do is just relax, now imagine having a camera focused on you and a microphone being shoved in your face with questions coming at you. That would be frustrating enough, but people who have just lost their children, spouses, or have been otherwise victimized are forced to deal with the press and put on a good face for the camera.

While I understand that it’s important for journalists to have the best story and have it in good time but where is the boundary drawn? When someone is the victim of a tragedy, they really just need someone to listen if they are willing to talk at all. Some may argue that journalists can be the ones that listen when the victims want to talk, but the majority would not be listening selflessly but with other motives of getting a good story out of the person.

There needs to be a human element to a good news story to make it more relatable to the readers, but to have video and pictures of someone crying and calling out for their loved ones is taking it too far. If a tragedy has occurred, then presenting the solid facts should be enough to provoke emotion for the reader or at least the average reader. Just reading about a plane crashing down and the victims that were onboard should bring about sadness and sympathy for the readers, there is no need for the survivors to be bombarded with cameras and reports asking if they can get an interview.

The picture that Derek Gee took of the plane crash site in Clarence was just bad timing, not a bad picture but bad timing. That picture would have been fine to publish a week or so later once the victims’ families had had the chance to see the site and start to come to terms with what happened. But the newspaper was under such pressure to have the best coverage quickly that those considerations seem to have been thrown to the side.

I just hope that reporters do not need to become numb to real human emotions in an effort to get a good news story.  Numb by ignoring the obvious signs that someone is not ready to be interviewed but continuing to ask. While a victim may agree to an interview after so many times of being asked, it may not be because they are ready to talk but because in our society grieving has become something that is done publically or other assumptions may begin to surface about the person that won’t agree to an interview.

Just give people time and be patient, readers will respect that more.

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One response to “Caught between tears, tissues, and the reporter’s notepad.

  1. Content: 4 Super, Heather. Your piece is focused and on-topic. This is something we will be talking about during our class on ethics, but I will try to remember to bring it up in class on Tuesday as it warrants discussion.
    Links: 3 You’ve become very proficient at links!
    Grammar: 3 Good, but please watch agreement. You make this mistake often and it is jarring to a reader:

    While a victim (VICTIM IS SINGULAR) may agree to an interview after so many times of being asked, it may not be because they(THEY IS PLURAL) are ready to talk but because in our society grieving has become something that is done publically or other assumptions may begin to surface about the person that won’t agree to an interview.

    This whole sentence needs a rewrite, starting with IT MAY BE BECAUSE (that’s a mouthful already! Try to simplify.)

    Also, I would end the piece with the line: In our media-obsessed society, grieving has become a public event.

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