A Rhode Island mother of a recovering shooting victim sicced two pit bulls on a reporter who asked for her reaction to the news the shooter was arrested. Did the reporter violate the mother's privacy? Did the mother overreact?
While society has learned the lesson “don’t shoot the messenger for bringing bad news,” we are still working on not beating the daylights out of the messenger for prodding us with questions about that news. Such was the case for ABC affiliate reporter Abbey Niezgoda found herself under attack by the angry mom who threw a rock, grabbed a bat and loosed her dogs on the reporter for what she thought was asking a simple question – “How do you feel about that?”
In two separate incidents on Sunday, TV reporters were attacked by friends and family of shooting victims while trying to get a story. In one case, a FOX Sacramento, Calif. reporter and camera operator were beaten by a mob. The female camera operator was allegedly kicked in the face. In other news, a Rhode Island reporter for ABC6 was attacked by the irate mom of a teenage shooting victim.
As a reporter and a mom, I can tell you that if you ask an overwrought parent “How do you feel about that?” the answer might just go beyond words.
“There are no stupid questions,” is something my mom drilled into me my entire life, as did my journalism professors. I think that right about now we might agree that there is one dumb question being asked in perpetuity of victims and their families and it’s “How do you feel about that?”
In reality the answer is not sound-bite-friendly because it’s going to be a mashup of these: furious, frightened, helpless, impotent, terrified, protective, and possibly insane.
While reporters try to understand the volatile nature of the situations they are in with all the shootings involving children, what they fail to understand is that there are no simple or safe questions when it comes to probing the depths of emotional wounds.