megan dot greenwell at gmail dotcom
Newtown Bee associate editor John Voket on how the paper is covering the shooting, in contrast to basically every other reporter on the story. (via susie-c)
The difference between how Newtown has been covered within Connecticut vs. outside the state has been striking. This quote demonstrates that pretty effectively. So does this morning’s tick-tock in the Hartford Courant, which is simultaneously the most detailed and least sensationalized story out there, and relies on none of the dumb tropes (If I see the word “quaint” one more time…) of the national outlets. So does Mike Hayes’ lovely piece on BuzzFeed about being from Newtown. So does WNPR’s coverage all weekend, which has included hours of open phone lines to create a state-wide support group over the airwaves. And that makes sense: The Bee and Courant and WNPR are for Connecticut. Everything else is for interested outsiders. You cover something differently when it’s yours.
I covered Virginia Tech. In some ways, we were the interlopers from outside—we were a national newspaper, Blacksburg is 250 miles and a world away from D.C. In other ways, we were the locals—the vast majority of the victims were from D.C. and its suburbs. Grieving family members hung up on me, I sobbed through two funerals, the works. We won a Pulitzer Prize. I still feel a bit queasy when I think back on it. I’m not a newspaper reporter anymore, will never again be paid to call a mother a few hours after she’s lost her teenage child.
You’re not going to keep the national media out of Newtown, obviously. But what if assigning editors in New York and D.C. told their reporters to lose a bit of their competitive instinct on this one, to follow the lead of the Bee and Courant instead of trying to beat them? I can’t help but think we’d still get the best journalism and a little more sensitivity and understanding.