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Chris,I believe Leslie did a great job not only did she capture the emotional side of the story but the reality of the story as well. Despite being heartbroken herself she remained professional and did what she was supposed to do, her job. Her telling the part where the owner/worker could only talk about the blood stain gives me insight that maybe this person was also in shock or so overwhelmed with emotion that this was all he could focus on. Maybe if instead of just reporting 15 soldiers killed in Iraq the press could tell a little bit of how each person lived and who loved and cared about them (the emotion) and then tell how each one died (the reality) then maybe there would be a quicker end to this war. The emotion in a story brings out the compassion so maybe the reality can help bring change.
My condolences on your loss and my appreciation for the thoughts you shared here. Your experience reminds us of what's truly important.
Wondering, I appreciate what you're saying about hoping even one parents thinks twice as a result of the story. As journalists, we certainly want that to happen. We hope our stories serve a greater societal good. At the same time, as a parent, I don't think it's at all appropriate to judge the parents in this accident who already have lost more than most of us can imagine.
Sailor, in terms of judging the reporter based on this story, I'd say she did well. She was on the scene quickly and took the initiative to interview witnesses and not rely solely on the police version of events. That's what people expect of a reporter. Should she have left out information she obtained? That's easy to second-guess, but our first instinct as journalists is always to share with the public the news we gather.
I've often told reporters and photographers that their first job is to get the news or photo. You don't have any ethical decision to make if you have nothing. Once we have the material in our hand, it's up to all of us in the newsroom to make the right decision about how to handle it. Putting this all on one reporter doing her job is unfair. She's the one routinely covering emotional police scenes. It's not surprising people would react strongly to what she reports.
We should review each story separately on its merits. We're not aware of a single inaccuracy in this report. We have a story planned for tomorrow following up on the tragedy from the mother's perspective.
If anyone wants to talk about other specific stories, we're happy to do so. My direct office number is 361-574-1271.