In Defense of Reporters in Newtown

Reporters are making residents in Newtown miserable. Check out this quote from Jonny Dymond of the BBC:

“British outlets alone must have sent 100 people to this tiny place. And the American networks and cable news channels must each have sent dozens of staff here, for their news bulletins and their programmes; CNN has rolled from Newtown pretty much non-stop since the massacre. On the networks, programme after programme has been anchored from the town.”

There are signs going up that say “no media.” “Go home, please, go home, all of you,” Dymond said he was told. “It’s unbearable. What do you all want? I know four or five of the families who lost kids and it’s too much for them, with all the media here. What do you all want?”

Everyone should know it’s the bosses who make this happen, not the reporters. My experiences are nothing compared to Newtown, but they’re relevant. In 2008, some freshman football players at Robertson High School were sexually abused by upper classmen at a summer football camp. Some were raped with broomsticks. Every single day we had editors telling us we had to get another story in the paper. They insisted we check in daily (or almost daily) with family members and anyone else the incident affected.

Some of the parents absolutely hated me. I went to a football practice at Robertson and sat next to a big, older guy in the bleachers who was watching practice with his arms folded. He kept them folded as he looked at me with hate in his eyes and said, slowly, “Now why would I want to talk to you about that? I don’t think you should be here.”

A year later, a car accident involving alcohol killed four Santa Fe teenagers. I attended several memorial services in search of criers. I would tell them who I worked for, ask if they would answer some questions, and hate myself for it.

Again, we had to have heavy, heavy coverage of major tragedies, because the bosses demanded it. We have so much news media now and the people who decide what to cover make stories like Newtown a priority and hand out horrible marching orders to reporters.

Reporters are fighting with their bosses to get off this story. I know it, because I’ve seen it many time. They want to step away and let it breathe and let the families and that community grieve. But reporters don’t win those fights. They’re told to get more quotes for more stories, and they do it because they need their jobs.

Which sucks, because politics is so corrupt at every level. If CNN covered THAT nonstop, you would see some positive systemic change instead of seeing a battered community begging to be left alone. 

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