A Horrible Situation Made Worse

Compassion, love, and support are required in the aftermath of tragedy and these sentiments are unable to surface when media is ever present with cameras, lights, and intrusive questioning.

I am thankful that the President of the United States came to Sandy Hook, Connecticut to pay his respects and to bring the condolences of our nation to the families and citizens of Sandy Hook who were recently devastated by the merciless killing of our innocent children, their teachers and their mentors at Sandy Hook Elementary School. His presence was appreciated and while he is the leader of this great nation, it was humbling to see him come into our community as a father and a husband.  I thank him for coming to this small Hamlet of Newtown, which is known as Sandy Hook.

I would like to address a very serious issue that, during this devastating time, has become quite disturbing; something which I am certain has been echoed by the citizens of every community that has been directly affected by the stigma of a violent crime spree.  I would like to address the media’s inability to know where the news ends and where the right to privacy for an individual begins.    

In the wake of the aftermath of this killing spree, my small two lane town has been made an impassable circus sideshow.  The quaint New England town that I have grown to love and nurture, Sandy Hook, has been made into a breeding ground for rubber necking and gawking.  The sensationalism caused by the journalists and reporters who continue to constantly stream live coverage in a town that is usually sound asleep by 11:00 p.m., has literally brought this Hamlet to a stand still.  The large boom trucks line both sides of Church Hill Road, tents shield reporters from the cold and misty rains, and the bright lights have made this sleepy center of Sandy Hook appear like a derelict urban street rather than the quaint New England town that I have grown to know and love.

Our citizens, my friends and family members, are being besieged with questions and microphones being shoved into our faces in what reporters were touting as a “respectful manner” while asking if we care to be interviewed.  I find no respect whatsoever in the act of a cameraman taping the thrust of a microphone into the blinded, grief stricken community and streaming sensationalism in the form of grief and mourning.  At a time when our small Sandy Hook had its innocence betrayed by the mass slaughtering of our children and mentors, we do not want to show the entire world our grief; nor do we want to share our anger, our disbelief, and our shock internationally.  Rather, we are extremely thankful for the outpouring of prayers, of support, love, and compassion being expressed from a world that shows respect and compassion by keeping its distance and attempting to shield and protect us from the voyeuristic nature of the media as various vigils and services are held around this great world.  We are appreciative of the world that has surrounded us, from afar, with their support, well wishes and prayers.  Tragedy has a way of turning a large world into a small town and yet the media seems to miss this humanistic approach as they converge and focus solely on their ratings in one small community.

I fail to understand why many of the people who were directly impacted by the shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary were unable to obtain seating at the All Faith Vigil when there appeared to be a plethora of media taking up space that a citizen of the school should have been afforded.  Why is it necessary, in this modern age, for every media outlet in the world to show up and converge on a small town like Sandy Hook?  In this modern age of wireless access, remote live feeds, satellite access, and whatever else the media has at their disposal, I find it a difficult pill to swallow that some how, some way, they could not figure out how to minimize their intrusive, voyeuristic presence and curtail the number of invasive cameras, camera operators, and reporters.  Why is it that a smaller camera presence could not have been accomplished to stream live coverage to the studios of all of the various and sundry interested media and allow them the ability to edit that coverage in the comfort of their own studios, away from families who are in mourning?  I do not believe that live streaming the tears and anguish on the faces of innocent people is a newsworthy topic.  I believe that respect for fellow human beings has been lost and that personal responsibility in reporting has become extinct in favor of ratings and awards.  I believe that there is no humanity among the reporters of the world.  I believe that what they are now reporting as “human interest” stories is tantamount to voyeurism of the vilest kind.

What took place in Sandy Hook Elementary School is beyond the scope of any anguish that I could describe with mere words.  What is currently taking place with the media is beyond reprehensible.  While I appreciate that they are not using the name of the perpetrator with any regularity, it seems that they are not extending their humanity and respect to the memories of these fallen individuals, to their families, or to the greater Sandy Hook area.

What can we do, as a world, to minimize this sort of intrusion after the news has been reported?  It seems to me that regardless of the fact that the media is not using the name of the shooter with as much frequency as they have in prior years, they continue to highlight and sensationalize the crime scene and the crime.  They continue to shove cameras in the face of a community in complete and utter turmoil.  They continue to use whatever underhanded and disgusting tactics and measures necessary to gain access to the families and friends of the victims.  This is a gross injustice and a revolting violation of privacy.  In the age of social media, the internet, and satellite television feeds, we are becoming more hardened and calloused to one another’s personal anguish.  It is a shame that I am witnessing the decline of humanity and the slaughter of compassion by events perpetrated by the media and exploited for a world that seems unable to articulate their need to offer solace without the need of constant live coverage.

 Sandy Hook has felt the effects of a murderous coward and now we are feeling the effects of a vulture-like media feeding on the carnage and carrion left in the aftermath of devastation.  How can we effectively make them go away and afford this community the time it needs to heal?  There is no more breaking news here that cannot be successfully disseminated via the many modern technological avenues available to us.  Why then are they still here if not to perpetuate the rubber necking and gawking; to boost their ratings; to receive an AP or UPI award; or for some other personal gain?  Certainly they are not here to help this community or to accurately report the events.  None of the reporters even seem to know that they are reporting from Church Hill Road in Sandy Hook and not from Main Street in Newtown, which is, in fact, several miles away.

 So, I ask you, what can we do to move the media along after tragic events unfold and the actual news of the story has been reported?  Certainly funerals and memorial services are not events to be put on display for all the world; they are very real and very personal tragic events that are better left for family and friends to seek and find comfort from one another, to relive happier times and memories, and to share love and compassion.  To televise this heart wrenching grief is simply an unconscionable act of voyeurism and we should all be responsible in finding a way to end it, not just for Sandy Hook, but for all individuals who may suffer from an unspeakable act of violence in the future.

I pray that we are all restored to some level of normalcy and I fear that we have all been left hardened by the very graphic and often unreliable portrayal of these events in the media.  Please join me in sending a message to the media that we will not lose our humanity or our compassion as a result of their vulture-like voyeurism and that the time has come for them to leave us each in our peace.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Anne Scarpa December 18, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Amen. Exactly how I feel. One woman reporter was interviewing families in church during the vigil. Disgusting.
Paula December 18, 2012 at 04:53 PM
I did leave a comment to this but does not appear. Although I understand author's frustration and grief for this tragic event, I do find her comment a bit overboard and selfish. She does not speak for the entire community of Sandy Hook and Newtown. In this day and age when all too often more and more of these unspeakable and horrific crimes are committed on people we love, the media and everything elss that goes with it will be around .. like it or not. If she is uncovenienced driving up Church Hill Road or Main Street on her way to the store, then that is something she may have to sacrifice. Going to bed by 11 pm and missing a few hrs of sleep is also something which may have to be forfeited as well considering most if not all of these poor victims' families have not had since approximately 930 am on 12/14/12 ... WE ARE ALL GRIEVING AND NOT SLEEPING EITHER ....
Paula December 18, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Correction *inconvenienced*
Shirley Lenhard December 18, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Paula, I apologize that you find my words and senitments less than genuine. My frustration is at the media poking and prodding the citizens of this fine community when we should be left to heal. This has nothing to do with sleeplessness, I wish you had taken a moment to reflect on the words, and again, I apologize that you seem to have missed the spirit and intend of my words. I wish you well and that you heal from this tragedy and that all Sandy Hook and Newtown residents find peace.
Shirley Lenhard December 18, 2012 at 05:03 PM
I find the lack of humanity and compassion disturbing. I wish you peace and wellness, Ms. Scarpa. Thank you.
Paula December 18, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Shirley..I really really do understand your grief .. I am feeling it as well. I, live not far from Newtown, and I do know of the beauty and quaintness and tranquility you describe. I do not believe you message was of any true meaness, it is just that sometimes the media is all some of us have in order to heal too. We want to know that everyone involved is going to be somewhat ok..I apologize for my quickness to judge you without knowing you but we all grieve in different ways ... my feeling is that if they don't want to talk or have their children interviewed, then they need to address that immediately...again, my sympathies to you as a resident ... Paula
Nancee December 18, 2012 at 05:32 PM
I agree. Yesterday I cried even more, I just wanted to read my local paper. The first thing I see... Parents beginning to do the hardest thing they will ever do in their lives.. These families need to mourn privately.. It is great to see the love & support from everywhere. But on another note, how do the parents explain what is going on in their town if they have yet to fully explain what has taken place in their town. I too have wondered where everyone is parking etc.. I worked in Sandy Hook & have lived in my town since I was 4.... These people are my family, the community needs to begin to mend.... Though it may take a life time.. I just feel privacy needs to be given to the town & to all the victims families as they go fourth laying their Angels to rest...I wanted to go pay my respects as parent & someone that has lived basically her whole life next door to this beautiful town.. But one can barely find parking or move at times in town...The holidays are a few days away.. This is hard enough...I pay my respects each night. As I turn on my tea lights, place them in the window or in a heart. Each light that no longer shines bright in my heart is an Angel being released & a soul at peace. I had my first nightmare about this horrific event last night & I barely can watch the local news... Social media is great but is overwhelming too. Sandy Hook~ I send all my support, love & prayers. May the town begin to find peace somehow... xoxo NAP~
Mr D. December 18, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Just as this tragedy renewed the debate about how much freedom of gun ownership is or is not granted by the Second amendment, we should also have a debate about how much freedom is or is not granted to the press under the First amendment. Many people would argue (I’m one of them) that one’s right to free speech stops where someone else’s privacy begins. Those two discussions need to both take place over the coming weeks. Our modern culture of in-your-face, 24/7 access to instant news reports that includes acts of violence is just as much to blame for such tragedies as are cultural shifts, alienation, family values, free access to guns, violent videogames and whatever else people blame this on.
Shirley Lenhard December 18, 2012 at 07:09 PM
I agree, Mr. D., and I thank you for reading my blog and posting your opinion as well. I find it tragic that my friend's children had to cross a line of cameras and media personnel just to get into their schools. This sight alone is unnerving to small children who have spent a weekend trying to find some peace from all of this sensationalistic (and often inaccurate) reporting. I believe the media should step back now and allow our community to nurture one another and try to find a way to heal. That is the entire intent of my words and was never intended to be construed as "selfish" or to convey a desire to go to bed early. So I am glad that at least some people agree that the media must find a way to be more respectful. While I understand that the world grieves with us, they do not need to see our tears or to hear our sobs in high definition to have empathy.
Shirley Lenhard December 18, 2012 at 07:11 PM
I wasn't speaking for any one, except myself. I would ask that you consider that while the entire world is surely grieving with the loss of these families and the citizens of these towns that they do not need to do so in high definition, nor do they have to hear the sounds of the cries of families leaving funeral homes to find empathy and sympathy for this community and, for the record, for the condition of the entire world. I wish you well, Paula, and thank you for your understanding and kind words.
Shirley Lenhard December 18, 2012 at 07:14 PM
I am so sorry that any of us are feeling the things that we are feeling these last several days, Nancee. And I so very much appreciate your prayers, love and support. There is an overwhelming feeling of loss and great sorrow in this small Hamlet of Sandy Hook. And your consideration is well received. Be well and be blessed.
Nancee December 18, 2012 at 07:34 PM
God Bless you Shirley~ big cyber hug...Honestly, I do not know how in any way your Blog could be considered selfish or even misinterpreted. You're in the town.. These are your friends & honestly this is something no one can comprehend or even begin to understand that has not been directly affected... Empathize, hug their child longer, yes but for myself I cannot comprehend the magnitude of emotions these families are feeling...I agree too with Mr.D .. there will be people coming to pay respects for a long time. But the media....I feel if families want to speak out they will when they are ready..
Shirley Lenhard December 18, 2012 at 08:37 PM
I tragically lost my nephew a few years ago just a few weeks before his 22nd birthday. Had the media been this invasive I would not have been able to handle it. I appreciate your kindness. That we should all give one another blessings in this time and throughout this healing process. We are all in this together and hopefully, by turning off the television set and actively writing about the experience SOMEONE in the media might heed a word of advice and back off. Children are children for so little time, let them experience childhood fully. God bless you as well, Nancee, I needed the cyber hug and return it to you.
CC December 19, 2012 at 03:01 PM
I would like to send nothing but prayers, love and support during this difficult time. I first heard the awful news from local tv, as they were hearing it. It was a crazy time of mis-information left and right, some painfully correct and some painfully not. I understand the media is there to inform the people of CT and the rest of the world...but I have been completly disgusted watching these reporters sticking microphones in childrens faces, minutes after the shooting asking detailed questions about "what they saw?" "what they heard?" I can personally say I was in shock listening to these reporters interview elementry kids, and there parents for allowing it! I have also seen the past few days on Dr Phil, Dr Oz, The Doctors and any other media-shows interviewing the same children! Here are "dr's" telling the parents not to keep dicussing the details of that day to or in front of there children....yet I have seen some of the same parents and child! It really is disgusting the media cant let the victims families mourn in peace. I also personally feel Its way too soon to interview the poor familes has asked to please give them time and respect there wishes, yet the media wont stop! I have even heard media tracking the families on facebook & twitter. I pray the community of Newtown & the victims families can begin to heal. Please know we are all praying for you and will continue to!
Shirley Lenhard December 19, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Thank you for your kindness and continuing prayers, all of which this community and the world need more of!
Mark McCusker December 22, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Simply put we all appreciate the love and support we have received from everyone, including the media. However, it is now time for everyone to go home to their families to celebrate Christmas and to leave us to celebrate it as well and to heal. It is time for them to please GO HOME!


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