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Acts of Kindness
December 18, 2012 - Liz Skoczylas
Originally, I had planned to blog about this past weekend and progress with our wedding planning. However, in light of recent events, I think it's best that it wait a few more days.
The media has received a lot of negative comments about the way it has handled and is handling the tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary. On Facebook, I even read an apology from a television news station regarding several interviews it did.
As a press-pass-carrying member of the media, I agree that sometimes a line is crossed. In an effort to get the most up-to-the-second news out, occasionally a lapse of judgement happens. And, with technology literally at our fingertips, there are times when media is competing to get the news out first, but it isn't always accurate. Such was the case Friday, when the suspected killer's name was originally released. The original name released was incorrect.
In this profession, which I love, I also receive a lot of criticism, even from close friends and family. I even hear criticism when it's not me personally reporting from the center of Hurricane Sandy, or as a tragedy is unfolding in Connecticut.
I completed four years of college to do what I do. I took ethics courses. I took writing courses. I attended media conferences in New York City each year. I sat as editor as my college newspaper. I have been a member of this newsroom for more than a year.
And my thoughts are this. People look to the media for updates and breaking news. Especially as a tragedy is unfolding, there are times when the news is the only source of information. People may be unable to get in touch with friends or family members, but they are able to look to the media to see and hear what is happening. And, despite everything, news helps educate people. It helps people take a look at their own surroundings and ask, "How can we prevent this same tragedy from happening here?" I personally strive to be fair in each article I write, and I feel that is my duty if I want to call myself a journalist. I know there are times when both sides of the story are not immediately available. There are times when a follow-up, or at times many follow-ups, are necessary. But, it's not always perfect.
That being said, as I watched the story unfold Friday, I like many others, was heartbroken for the community in Newtown, Conn. Seeing the images of children and horror-stricken parents made my heart ache.
But, my heart also broke for the media and first responders at the scene, as both of the groups are very near to my own heart. I am marrying a volunteer firefighter, and I have seen first-hand the effects on him following local tragedies. The things those responders saw Friday makes me want to cry for them.
Then, seeing the media as they worked to get news out to the rest of the country was difficult. I myself have covered difficult stories, but none as difficult as media in Connecticut covered Friday. Despite criticism, they were able to get the news out. That news made many people stop and reflect on their own lives.
The images that have been coming out of this tragedy, I think, are absolutely horrifying. However, I commend the first responders - the police, SWAT, EMS and fire personnel - and the media for doing their jobs. While others began grieving as soon as the news hit, they had a job to do before they were able to fall apart.
Ann Curry's twitter profile says, "Journalism is an act of faith in the future." I didn't realize how true it was until I read that. Sunday, Curry tweeted, "Imagine if all of us committed to 20 mitvahs/acts of kindness to honor each child lost in Newtown. I'm in. If you are RT #20Acts."
Over the weekend, I saw something that touched my heart. While N and I were doing some last-minute shopping, a cashier noticed N's sweatshirt, which had the name of his fire department on it, as well as the Maltese Cross. The cashier, who by my estimates was a girl who was still in high school, looked N in the eye and thanked him for being a volunteer firefighter.
"I don't believe you get enough credit for the work you do," she told him. "Thank you."
So simple. But, in light of everything that has happened, so meaningful.
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