ONTD Political

Newtown overwhelmed by media

10:59 am - 12/18/2012
Newtown overwhelmed by media

"Go home, please, go home, all of you."

The man standing in front of me in the lobby of my hotel was not in the slightest bit aggressive, but he was very clear.

"It's unbearable. What do you all want? I know four or five of the families who lost kids and it's too much for them, with all the media here. What do you all want?"

Most of the rest of the lobby - and much of the hotel - was taken up by notebook-wielding, fleece-wearing, camera-toting journalists. But that's just the start.

The village of Sandy Hook, the centre of which is little more than a crossroads, has been transformed.

A changed town

It seems like a nice place - a classic little New England village, with white wooden houses and good-looking shops.

But it is difficult to know what it is actually like because, early on Saturday, it had been transformed into a set, a backdrop for the vast swarm of journalists that had descended on the place.

The main street, Church Hill Road, that leads towards Sandy Hook Elementary school, was grinding with bumper-to-bumper cars that it is difficult to imagine are there every - or any - day.

In the small car park in front of the Methodist church, satellite trucks belted out noise and exhaust fumes; up and down the street cameramen roamed, filming the traffic, filming the shops, filming each other.

At the bottom of Church Hill Road, where the hill begins to climb up toward the firehouse and the school, there were more satellite trucks and live positions for television correspondents.

On Saturday a few shops had pinned notices to their doors, and one or two lampposts had messages of sorrow and condolence.

Today, a shrine of candles and teddy bears and messages attracts a steady flow of visitors, many filmed and interviewed by the omnipresent camera crews.

Up by the firehouse, by the sign for Sandy Hill Elementary School ("Visitors Welcome"), there are more TV live positions.

In the overflow area are dozens and dozens and dozens more satellite vans.

Media footprint

Normally we journalists are the ones pressing our noses to the glass, reporting on what we see. Here it is the residents of the town who, driving very slowly in the staggering traffic jam look on, amazed at the freak show that has descended.

I have covered stories for 15 years in the field, some of the biggest, and have never seen anything like this, nor felt so uncomfortable about being part of it.

There are hundreds upon hundreds of journalists here, all of us searching for a new angle on a story that, really, came and went in a few terrible minutes on Friday morning.

How much more is there to say about such horror?

Perhaps not much.

On Saturday, in the space of 10 maybe 15 minutes, whilst I tried vainly to persuade members of the a Newtown women's club to do an interview, I saw a placard-carrying woman by the roadside approached, filmed, photographed by more than a dozen different cameramen and journalists.

For good or ill, I do understand the machinery of news. The BBC alone has four 24-hour news channels (two radio, two TV, one each respectively for domestic and international audiences) along with three TV news bulletins a day, four radio news programmes most days, radio news bulletins, summaries and our online operation.

None of these outlets is catered for without correspondents and producers, cameramen and technicians.

Throw in ITN, Sky, Channel 4 and the newspapers - one broadsheet sent four correspondents - and British outlets alone must have sent 100 people to this tiny place.

And the American networks and cable new channels must each have sent dozens of staff here, for their news bulletins and their programmes; CNN has rolled from Newtown pretty much non-stop since the massacre. On the networks, programme after programme has been anchored from the town.

There's no denying that this is an astonishing event that audiences want to know about.

But our footprint in tiny Sandy Hook is exceptionally heavy. And after a while, you have to wonder what more there is to say.

The children have gone. Their poor parents are grieving. The police are saying very little.

Some reporting comes close to repeatedly ripping a sticking plaster off. Watch or listen or read too much, and it feels as if we are wallowing in other people's pain.

Go home, the man in the lobby said, go home. And very soon, I will.
chaya 18th-Dec-2012 02:05 am (UTC)
This needs the CT tag.
homasse 18th-Dec-2012 02:15 am (UTC)
*shrug* OK. And it took me a while to figure out what "CT" was.
free_spoons 18th-Dec-2012 02:21 am (UTC)
I remember my friends in Blacksburg and Roanoke getting really upset at all the media that showed up there. One of my friends from college still won't watch NBC news because of how she felt they acted.
blackjedii 18th-Dec-2012 02:35 am (UTC)
They still show up whenever there's a gun scare. We had someone from the BBC call during the policemen shooting.
That day.
blackjedii 18th-Dec-2012 02:35 am (UTC)
Mods can we start having trigger warning: media sucks tag?



Edited at 2012-12-18 02:36 am (UTC)
morningapproach 18th-Dec-2012 03:17 am (UTC)
layweed 18th-Dec-2012 02:43 am (UTC)
I've watched less than a minute of the media coverage (not including the President's speech the other night) and pretty much avoided all news since the event happened. Idk. I really hate how even broadcast network attempts to give 24/7 coverage of events like this. CBS was running 1 hour long "special reports" for the last few days and I just hated it. What the hell for? Is there actually anything to report? Is the news ratings grab so important to you that you need to report the same damn news over and over again? Are you so damned insensitive that you can't leave people to grieve in peace? ugh.
peace_piper 18th-Dec-2012 05:31 am (UTC)
You summed up exactly my feels. "What the hell for?"
eyetosky 18th-Dec-2012 02:51 am (UTC)
I had to sit in a waiting room this morning, and the dreg of dregs, the Today Show, was straight up airing helicopter footage of the school. They were just kind of talking about how there are students in there trying to go back to class, and gee how hard it must be. Oh I dunno. Today Show, maybe it's because YOU'RE FLYING A FUCKING HELICOPTER OVERHEAD NONSTOP.

And then they put on a big Texan televangelist couple to give advice on how to cope to the families (that most assuredly didn't ask). The main thing I remembered, or could discern between snarling, was that they advised to find something to learn from in the situation, otherwise the "tragedy would be wasted".

layweed 18th-Dec-2012 02:54 am (UTC)
I read one network put on Dr. Drew. Srsly? Dr. fucking Drew? I guess Dr. Phil was unavailable? Nancy Grace? Wtf.
layweed Re: FOR CONTEXT18th-Dec-2012 03:16 am (UTC)
What. But....why? Does it at least have reflectors so people don't drive right into it? Is that some sort of historic flagpole? Idgi.
maclyn 18th-Dec-2012 03:18 am (UTC)
Yep, and as far as I can tell from what the papers are writing here, Dunblane's having to deal with a mini invasion again too.
twowaymirrrors 18th-Dec-2012 03:40 am (UTC)
How much more is there to say about such horror?

Perhaps not much.

Yes, exactly so now it is time to go home. Now one wants them around now that they're starting to hold funerals for the victims.
recorded relevant image18th-Dec-2012 03:54 am (UTC)
zaure Re: relevant image18th-Dec-2012 04:47 am (UTC)
And yet...

*looks at recent articles posted on ontd_p*
evewithanapple 18th-Dec-2012 04:45 am (UTC)
Well you don't want him to miss out on the story, do you? The nation needs paparazzi shots of sobbing relatives at the funerals!
tigerdreams 18th-Dec-2012 04:53 am (UTC)
Once you've reached the point of issuing media coverage about media coverage, you have divided by zero. There is nothing more to say. Go home and write fill your column space about how people should adopt shelter dogs for Christmas or something. You're done.
tabaqui 18th-Dec-2012 04:55 am (UTC)
When i was in HS, i remember doing 'career day' and talking to a reporter from the local paper and i thought 'how can she go ask people whose kid/so/parent has just died in some horrible way 'how do you feel right now?'...?'

It's always bothered me, and frankly, i don't give a damn about getting someone's 'feelings' about this - we all know how they're feeling, leave them the hell alone!

The person who wrote this piece should go home *now*. Not soon. Now.
tinylegacies 18th-Dec-2012 07:58 pm (UTC)
And this is precisely why I never used my Communication degree to work in journalism. Columbine happened during my senior year of college and the coverage put me off of working in the field forever.
ceilidh 18th-Dec-2012 06:18 am (UTC)
If all you can do is write about how there are too many of you hanging around and the people there don't want you, it's time to go the fuck home.
iolarah 18th-Dec-2012 12:46 pm (UTC)
I would love a moratorium on Newtown until at least the new year. No arguments about how to fix it (because as if we can really solve that right now), no cameras on the families--let's leave them to grieve in peace.
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