Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Show respect for shooting victims and families

A TERRIBLE THING like the Orlando shooting should never be forgotten. But where do we draw the line when it comes to media coverage and showing people at their most desperate hour?

It won't stop, and it shouldn't, but it's getting harder and harder to watch. This morning on one of the network shows they showed a young man eulogizing his mother at her funeral. Apparently she liked to come with him to the club and dance. He sobbed and shook as he talked about her, and I simply couldn't watch it.

I understand the media has a job to do. But really? At the funeral? Why were television cameras let in there in the first place? People deal with grief differently, I suppose, but I would have banned cameras. I got sent to a lot of funerals during my reporter days and hated them. At least I just had to write about it, not stick a camera in somebody's face.

Of course, toward the end of my days in newspaper journalism, I was required to also shoot video. I think I got out just in time.

The day after the shooting they kept showing a mother falling apart, hysterically bellowing into the cameras about not knowing where her son was. Turns out he was killed inside the club. My God, what a terrible thing. And they keep showing it, and showing it, and showing it. Why?

I am not lessening the horrendous impact of this event. It's hard enough to fathom. But do we really need that image burned into our overwhelmed brains? Do we really need to see a distraught mother disintegrate before our very eyes? Do we?

I have the solution to this, of course. I turn it off.

I'm the pot calling out the kettle. I spent a dozen years covering crime and courts, or chronicling human misery, as some called it. Thank goodness I didn't have to poke a camera in front of a victim or the families, and the local media kept it civil most of the time, but I always tried to be respectful and wait for the right time, as did the Whig photographers.

We all grieve with the families and victims of the Orlando shooting. We all want to be part of something bigger, offer hope and love. But when it comes to the survivors and their direct families and loved ones - the right place at the right time, please.

Click. I just turned the news off again.

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