Eyes and ears

I had intended to write another annoyed rant about the news media’s use of the word “shooter” to describe a cold blooded killer, but the topic seemed inadequate to the Connecticut school massacre story.  I realized this especially after reading a raw and eloquent Facebook post by one of Atlanta’s best TV reporters, WSB’s Jodie Fleischer.  I can’t really top it.  It’s reposted below in its entirety.

Jodie Fleischer, WSB

Jodie Fleischer, WSB

I am a reporter and a human being. Just like the hundreds of reporters and photographers and producers who are covering this story, we are all crying, inside and out.

We do not show pictures of people grieving to make more money or because it gives us some sort of thrill. We do it because it’s our job to be the eyes and ears for the rest of you. Those images, as horrific as they are for you to see, are even worse in person. Trust me, the devastating images on tv never fully depict what we really see. Yes, sometimes we have to put aside that emotion to do our jobs without looking like bumbling idiots on tv.

Sometimes we just can’t.

In the past 3 days, I’ve seen dozens of Facebook posts criticizing ‘the media’ for not being emotional enough, or for being too emotional showing reporters’ interactions with these grieving families. I’ve seen posts criticizing reporters for interviewing children, who were the majority of the witnesses to this tragedy. Their parents likely made the decision to allow that, because they recognize that the world needs to feel what their children felt.

Reporters are not ‘vultures’ chasing down parents for sport. I have the utmost respect for Emilie Parker’s father for choosing to speak about his beautiful daughter and wanting everyone to know more than just her name.

If you don’t want to see and hear what happened in Connecticut, from the people who lived it, turn off your television. But for the rest of us who can’t stop watching, let’s please allow this to be a platform for meaningful discussions about mental health, guns, and humanity, not opinionated ranting about one political view or another.

I just don’t understand how any rational person could think a deranged lunatic would shoot a bunch of 6 year olds just to get his name in the news. I’m guessing there were other problems in his life, problems that exist for countless others whom we all encounter every day.

Yes, those images my colleagues are sending into your homes are hard to see. They are uncomfortable and disturbing and heartbreaking. I hope we all become better people for recognizing that.

This entry was posted in WSB on by .

About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

8 thoughts on “Eyes and ears

  1. live apt fire Post author

    The second-to-last paragraph is a reference to criticism of the news media for somehow sensationalizing the story and glorifying the gunman. This criticism drives me kinda nuts. Sure, there are competitive pressures that lead to the tawdry promotion of “exclusive” material, but that happens with any big story. This story is impossible to sensationalize because the facts themselves are so horrible.

  2. BH672@ymail.com

    They is no way any “normal” rational person can understand the mental state of a person who acts in such a manner, other than to accept that that person thought he was acting in a normal and rational mannerat that time for that action.

    Some people will “blame” guns, divorce, or whatever, but they are not the cause, otherwise these killings would be the widespread daily normal.

  3. Marion Morrison

    I disagree with Jodie. Sticking a microphone in the face of a 6 year old and asking her about the slaughter she witnessed is just wrong. It is not reporting.I don’t care what the parents agreed to, everyone is still shell shocked by the horror and those reporting are taking advantage.

    “I realize that you most likely won’t allow this up on the site. That’s cool. I just disagree with Jodie as well does everyone else in my office.”

  4. David

    No one will like this, but I’ll say it. Why don’t I see outrage from people when the evening news shows bodies burning in the streets in the Middle East? Or other carnage beyond imagination. Why? Because international stories are viewed as Journalism — with a Capital J — and domestic news is apparently tawdry gossip because it hurts more when it happens closer to home. Sure, interviewing children is a touchy subject and should be done judiciously, but journalists write the first draft of history. I’m so tired of faux outrage over things like “the media” when there are 26 slain people and one deeply troubled man who took his life. Is that not enough to be upset about? Last month CBS was raked through the coals online because it showed a lion cub that had been trampled. It’s hindquarter were lame. Knowing she could do nothing, the lioness teared up, swallowed hard — all seen in the video — and walked away. Online commenters railed at CBS for “not warning them of such horrifying images ahead of time” and said they were “certainly scarred for life”. The world is a tough place, get over it. As for Newtown, don’t get over it. Direct your anger, your outrage, your energy and have a productive conversation. Assailing “the media” as some collective group that always acts together does nothing. Not all journalists and not all news organizations were created equal. Stop acting like they are.

  5. DonB

    An excellent, heartfelt essay by Jodi Fleischer. From what I have seen so far of the national (and local) media (NBC, CBS, MSNBC) they have done a great job covering this very painful event. I’m sure glad I did not have to stand out in the cold in Connecticut trying to be professional, respectful, and make sense of this outrage. But enough love. @BH672 above, you post is intellectually and morally vacuous. WTF is your point? That no one can ever know why this happened and we can’t do anything about it? That rational people can’t question the mindset of the irrational and the murderous conduct of others? In 2008, there were 12,000 gun-related homicides in the U.S. — that’s not widespread enough for you? BTW, in Japan that year, there were 11. Maybe cynical detachment is your coping mechanism. It’s not working for the rest of us.

  6. FM Fats

    I wish reporters on the scene in Newtown had spent as much time verifying stories before airing them as news as they did trying to interview six year olds and their starstruck parents. Perhaps we would not have seen reports that Ryan Lanza was the killer, that Adam Lanza had killed his brother, that Nancy Lanza was a teacher at SHES, that Adam Lanza had killed his father, and some of the other inaccurate things we heard Friday and Saturday. I understand how competitive the process is, but I feel that in view of such horror the journalists at Sandy Hook should have taken a few deep breaths and thought hard before even asking if they could talk to a child.


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