Friday, December 21, 2012

Journalists in Newtown: The human story

Visual journalist Chris Dunn brought this magnet back
 for her editor, Eileen Joyce. It's on the side of Eileen's desk,
 and is a visual connection of the YDR's newsroom to Newtown.
The York Daily Record has sent several staffers to Newtown, Conn. to help the New Haven Register cover the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting there. They've encountered some anti-media sentiment, but, as they have approached their difficult jobs with sensitivity and humanity, they have also found a welcoming community.

 And they have written about their experiences:

All too often, I take the “get-in, get-out” approach to journalism.
I get it done, crank out the story, and move onto the next thing.
I don’t ask people about their days or their plans for the holidays.
But you have to in a situation like this. You have to be kind, be human.
You have to show a genuine interest in the things people are saying and put the notepad away. Tell them you wish it never happened.

I’ve been back in York for a full day now, and normalcy is not a thing yet. I went into work today to do some paperwork and participate in the holiday potluck and secret Santa gift exchange, but it all felt strange and foreign. Jeff and I are planning a weekend trip to Philadelphia — which had been our original plan for last weekend — and I mean to bake Christmas cookies, but it’s hard for me to focus on anything.
And yet, I was there for only four full days. I neither knew nor met any of the victims’ families. I never set foot inside a funeral service or wake, and I met only one person who personally knew a victim.
How or whether the people of Newtown and Sandy Hook will fully heal, I’m not sure. But I can say this: It is a strong, close-knit community, and even in a time of immense sorrow, the people are among the kindest, most polite I have ever met.

I started Wednesday covering Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung’s wake. The anxiety quickly disappeared after the first two people I interviewed thanked me for covering the story.
Everywhere we turn, my colleagues and I are confronted by gracious souls. Last night, one of the cleaning women at our hotel thanked YDR reporter Rebecca LeFever for her efforts. A psychologist staying here offered her services if anyone on staff needed grief counseling.
There is much more insight in each of these posts. All of them are well worth your time.