Behind the Scenes: Numb

by - December 16, 2012

Members of the media see bad news every day. After awhile it has a numbing effect. You tend to brush off the robberies and burglaries, shake your head at the drug arrests and related shootings. Chalk it all up to a harsh world and the fact that your job is caught in the crossfire.

Friday, December 14th, was a hard day for America. Instead of buying presents, the families of 20 children will be buying coffins. And aside from those families directly affected by the senselessness of this tragedy, no one felt the horror of that day more so than the media - forced to watch the tragedy unfold all day long.

We'll be criticized for the way we handled our coverage. We always are in these situations. We'll be called insensitive, tasteless, emotionless. But in all truthfulness, we were just doing our jobs -- and there is no easy way to cover these situations.

Doctors and other experts will diagnose Adam Lanza as mentally ill. The media will dutifully relay that diagnosis to our viewers because it's our duty. We won't call this man what we really want to - a monster, evil.

I'd be lying if I said stories like these don't affect us.

You can turn the channel when you've had enough of a particular story. We spend the entire day, sometimes weeks and even months, reliving these stories over and over again.

We may not call these monsters out for what they are. We may not shed tears while we're on the air. But that doesn't mean we haven't been affected, that we don't feel the heartbreak.

Maybe I'm reaching, but our jobs are one of the hardest in the world. We may not relay bad news one-on-one to those who are directly affected by it. We don't take on that huge responsibility.

We just have to relay the news to everyone else.

It is a man's own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways.

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  1. I was producing when the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant meltdown disaster took place right in the middle of our station's coverage area. That story dominated newscasts for at least two years afterward. For weeks the entire half hour cast was about nothing else but TMI. Maybe that's where "tmi" really came from!

    I thought about you as this latest horror story unfolded, Ashton. Since early Friday afternoon I have watched many hours of coverage including the major networks, cable channels and local news programs. Frankly, all of the anchors and reporters I have watched till now have done a marvelous job. At no time did I hear anybody say anything that I would call insensitive or tasteless.

    There was a male anchor at my first television station, the one with the TMI towers in our back yard. We had a regularly scheduled segment within the newscast that allowed him to state his opinion on various topics. Doesn't your station ever allow its anchors to offer commentary about key issues or controversial topics in the news? Just wondering. This anchor of ours was so well respected that I can't remember any viewers ever phoning or writing in to criticize what he had to say.

    1. We don't have a lot of room for opinions. Generally our viewers think what we're broadcasting is our opinion anyway. Welcome to the South?