It was a sad week, a hard week and a heavy week for news.
News comes with unfortunate side effects. As a journalism student I am warned of the difficulty of reporting tragedy and trained to cover it. But we are never truly prepared.
My broadcast writing instructor, Professor Cupp gave us a two-part lecture last week on covering tragic news. In the lectures he emotionally recalled stories he reported during his broadcast career. Twice, tears filled his eyes.
I’ve been told it does not get easier.
Unfortunately the news of Coach Dean Smith’s passing, the shooting of three students in the area, the death of Coach Jerry Tarkanian, the killing of Kayla Mueller, the loss of Bob Simon and, just last night, the death of David Carr all happened this week. A tsunami of tragedy hit the industry. How do you cover all of this and not be affected?
The truth: you don’t.
Journalists have to build up immunities. We are taught to show sympathy while also getting the facts. We cannot allow emotion to consume us on-air. We have to tell the story objectively. So our skin gets tough.
The greats do it well but more often than not we get the facts without the human element.
As we lose emotion in newscasts, we find it in social media.
Wednesday as global news outlets reported facts about the deaths of Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha, the social media community mourned.
My classmates offered their opinions of social media’s role in this sad week of news.
Emma did a great job explaining how social media personalizes victims. She said online profiles allowed news outlets to provide more intimate information about the three students, adding an emotional aspect.
Clay explained how social media acted as a springboard for the story. He said it’s trending on twitter caused major networks to pick it up.
Clearly the role social media played in this story is worth noting.
While I agree that this media added to the story and even allowed for more coverage, I think it also filled a very large void that has been developing for sometime.
Reports on social media were rich with emotion: grief for the lives that were taken, rage toward the shooter and disappointment in mass media for not covering it properly. What I did not see on TV, I saw here.
Even though I find it upsetting that newspeople cannot be both human and professional simultaneously, it is almost comforting to know that other platforms can makeup for the lack of emotion on-air. And while I understand the defense mechanism in place that allows reporters to do their job, I hope I never become desensitized to true tragedy.