To the Editor:
Many colleagues in the national and global media have been asking: “What will happen if a reporter has to come to Newtown on Saturday?” My response is simple: be creative, don't procrastinate and you won't have to come on Saturday. But as a journalist, I know that not everything in the news business can be canned ahead of time. While the likes of CNN and NBC can prepare their pieces weeks in advance, there are many outlets, particularly our sympathetic local media, who don't have such luxury.
I have told my colleagues not to misconstrue my hometown's seemingly prickly approach to the media on December 14 as a show of anger or entitlement, or a lack of appreciation for the coverage – most of it respectful – that we have experienced. All the reporters, anchors and producers I know that covered the shooting hated having to do so. Whether they were parents or not, it was the single worst story they have ever been assigned.
The nation understandably wants to mourn with Newtown and the media is their conduit. People everywhere want to help pay tribute to the innocent lives taken on that awful day last December. For those who have lived in Newtown this past year, the reminders are constant and ever-present. The presence of satellite trucks jarringly reasserts the town's collective, terrible memory.
Newtowners are not shirking a responsibility to remember what happened, I tell my colleagues in the press, they need space and time to heal. But, I also hope that we as a town do not demonize the media for trying to, respectfully, connect. We may not want reporters tramping down Main Street on Saturday, nor do we have to speak to them. But those who do come will just be doing their jobs – sent by some desk editor in Washington, New York, Sao Paulo or Tokyo – in return for a paycheck.
The worst response would be to show the world the grimace of an angry community. All it takes is one nasty exchange caught on camera to go viral and paint a damaging image, and one that does not accurately reflect our good nature. The signs everywhere remind us that we are Newtown, and we choose love. Let's not forget that on Saturday.
136 Castle Hill Road, Newtown December 10, 2013
(Rob Cox is editor of Reuters Breakingviews, the commentary service of Thomson Reuters.)