Covering the Anniversary of the Newtown Shooting

Friday, December 06, 2013


Next weekend marks the anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook elementary, and the town of Newtown has asked that the press stay away out of respect for the grieving families and community. Brooke discusses media coverage in light of this request as well as the ethics of airing the recently released 911 phone calls with executive editor of NPR news, Madhulika Sikka.

Kronos Quartet - Flugufrelsarinn


Madhulika Sikka

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [6]

reporter from Round Lake, IL

Em's analysis is spot on. Thank you.

Dec. 10 2013 10:00 PM

Another disappointing segment from OTM. I applauded loudly at Rachel Maddow's stand, although it seemed the obvious and humane reaction. Unfortunately not to everyone however. Ms Gladstone, YOU may "feel" the need to listen to a massacre, but you merely reveal your own contempt for empathy by doing so. The ONLY feelings that should be considered are the feelings of the families, and they have expressed them clearly. The rest of this is academic. But apparently for Ms Gladstone, her "feelings" are the only ones that matter. Her sense of "catharsis" must prevail. Well which child of hers died in that massacre?? So why do her "feelings" trump those of the families? I was sickened by her hollow conclusion, which again reveals the overwhelming narcissism this country has fallen prey to.

I am sick of the media turning a massacre into a "national tragedy". It is not a national tragedy, it is a personal tragedy effecting only those directly involved. It is a national ISSUE of public safety, no more no less. Do I mourn every car or train wreck victim? Do I need to have video footage of them, so I can "understand" or "empathise" with those tragedies? NO OF COURSE NOT. But if a train or car wreck is caused by mechanical fault or negligence which puts us all at risk, then I need to be able to read/hear THE FACTS. It is not personal, it is societal, it is a matter of public policy - it is POLITICAL.

So stop turning these events into melodrama, and then hiding behind the specious argument that you are furthering the debate. You are not helping the situation, and you are certainly not helping the families. If you bothered to listen to something beyond your own Inner Voice, you might comprehend this fairly simple and straightforward truth. I mean, think about it - why would NRA-loving Fox want to have these tapes? Well, you seem to forget that whilst the massacre briefly heightened gun control support, there was an even more dramatic boom in gun sales. So who do these tapes benefit most? The gun control people or the gun sellers cashing in on renewed anxiety about homicidal maniacs???

We seem in this country to be stuck in a state of terminal adolescence through which every situation has to be directed through the "OMG, what if it had been me" lens. That is not empathy, that is NEUROSIS. We do not have to live or relive a situation to make it relevant to our society or ourselves. The facts are up for investigation, and THE ISSUES ARE THE ISSUES. Generally OTM does a good job focusing on the issues, so it is extremely sad when such an obvious one passes them by.

Dec. 09 2013 05:37 PM
reporter from round lake, il

Knowing how sensationalism in the US media works and contrary to popular opinion it is not as bad as for example in the UK, I think both sides can make a compelling and valid argument. I think decent and ethical thing to do would be to ask the families of Sandy Hook for their opinion on the matter and act accordingly. From US media perspective there is a "great" captivating story however I am very suspicious of argument that US media's job is to inform. For commercial media it is to sell, for outlets such as NPR is to serve the "golden middle" whatever that is with many crisscrossing agendas and interests du jour.The way NPR and by its extension OTM works, truth takes a back seat on the bus filled with careerists, opportunists, players and the drivers that change according to political need to follow the road signs.

Dec. 09 2013 12:16 PM

I look at the release of the 911 tapes as the same as seeing photos of lynchings i.e. Emmett Till or seeing the coffins of the fallen.

Add to that the number of lunatics out there who believe that Sandy Hook was a hoax and the people who insist on talking about guns in a completely hypothetical context ("If only there had been somebody else there with a gun..." or "Magazine size doesn't matter because someone can reload in seconds!") and I think that while releasing the tapes might not have journalistic value, it does have societal and historical value.

I feel for the Sandy Hook families but I find that the desire to hide what happened that day very disturbing. The people of Sandy Hook have had to live with the reality of that day. The rest of us should too. Especially the people who want to put more guns on the street. I see people saying they favor sensitivity when what they really want is amnesia.

Dec. 09 2013 11:46 AM
reporter from round lake,il

Bravo for Sue to see OTM has no clothes. I think you can also see how Brooke reported Russia story under "fire" in 1992 when the actual attempt on the Russian parliament took place in 1991. Actually knowing how the post-coup havoc has scarred Russia under Yeltsin I can tell that Brooke's reporting is nothing but hype and snow job. NPR had a great and honest reporter Gregory Pfeiffer but he was replaced with hacks such as current beautiful voice NPR star David Greene (poorly disguised shill/hack job on Ukrainian elections without knowledge of Ukrainian/Russian (durak is the name of the game)) and current shill/hack Steve Inskeep (keeping a halo of oligarch and thief Khodorkovsky alive). Putin the devil incarnate so how come he keeps winning elections? In other words, if one wants to hear the truth listen to the Russians, as far away from foreign funded think tanks as possible (zdrastie always reliable Masha Lipman).
NPR has its own timeline and according to it the events in 1991 took place a year later or perhaps we all missed the revolution?;

"In 1987, NPR's Scott Simon asked her to fill in as senior editor for his still-new program, Weekend Edition Saturday. Eventually they gave her the job, and a couple years later, she became senior editor of the NPR newsmagazine, All Things Considered. She was awarded a Knight Fellowship at Stanford in 1991 and a year later she was in Russia, reporting on the bloody insurgency of the Russian Parliament and other stories for NPR."

Dec. 08 2013 02:00 PM
Sue Seeberger from Dayton Ohio

Brooke, I agree with Rachel Maddow and NPR that the 911 tapes from the Newtown massacre will not help me understand this horrific tragedy. Your interest in wanting to hear these tapes tells me more about you than any claim you may have that hearing the gunshots and hearing the callers' fear and last moments before being killed has legitimate news interest for me and your listeners. If you do not understand this, then possibly you do not understand the role of responsible journalists. Your interest in these tapes is suitable for pseudo-news outlets such as The News of the World, thankfully gone now, and Inside Edition. As a loyal listener of OTM and NPR, I will now listen to your segments with more skepticism and distance.

Dec. 07 2013 07:29 AM

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