The residents of Newtown, Conn. – whose lives were violently disrupted by a massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary last year on Dec. 14 – have asked media to leave them alone this year. No breathless “one year ago today!” stories while standing right where it happened, no interviewing any residents about their grieving process, no emotion-laden features with haunting music. Nobody in this country needs any treacly, heart-wrenching reminders of what they will never forget … and if you absolutely must produce them, there’s no need to go to Newtown to do it.
Reporters, editors and TV producers: Please, out of human decency, respect the townspeople’s wishes. There is no news in Newtown you need to go there to find. I can practically write the predictable one-year-shooting-anniversary stories myself without interviewing anybody. “This Newtown native is still trying to forget, or at least leave in the past, what happened a year ago today, just two blocks from her house. Reminders of the deadly massacre crop up every time she leaves her home. In a town where everyone knows each other, grief rears its dark head every day.”
If you must, take pictures of any “media go away” signs, and then turn your cars around and go find a different story.
Happily, CNN, USA Today and several local TV stations have said they won’t send reporters to Newtown. Let’s hope other media outlets, large or small, have the courage to stay away too.