The other day, I mentioned on Facebook that we at CBS News were going to air a special hour on the Newtown tragedy and immediately, a woman I know quite well said, “This is so horrible. We don’t need it blasted all over TV.” I hear those sentiments all the time whenever one of these brutal national news stories erupts and the truth is, we do need to cover it and cover it well.
This is a major news story and its the job of those of us in the media to give the story as much play as it deserves and can there be any doubt that this story deserves a LOT of coverage?
I can’t tell you how impressed I was — along with most everyone else in the country — by the way Newtown parent Robbie Parker handled himself during the aftermath. Robbie lost his little girl but he stood before the cameras in a suit and tie and looking dignified and brave and heart-broken, told the nation about his sweet, angelic six-year-old daughter Emilie and why he missed her. THAT is the way to handle yourself in a crises. Not everyone can do it but didn’t television viewers everywhere appreciate that Robbie took time out from his nightmare to do what he did, to remember his daughter?
The truth is that television captures raw emotion much better than print. We could have read about what Robbie said but it would not have had the same power if he had not stepped before the cameras to share his grief with the nation. I’m glad he did and not just because I work in television. He stole the spotlight away from the shooter and placed it where it belongs. I’m sure he’s at peace with what he did.
He has become the face of parental grief and it’s no accident that President Obama went out of his way to share a few words with him.
Let’s be honest with ourselves — we have a job to do and millions of people yearn for information. If you are one of the few who do not, the answer is clear — stop watching. The media is not going to stop reporting, nor should we.