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'Open Letter to the Media' in Wake of Newtown Tragedy

Fairfield resident Kelly O'Neil asks the media to not 'make the perpetrator of these crimes into stars.'

'Open Letter to the Media' in Wake of Newtown Tragedy

An open letter to the media:

I know we can all agree that what happened in Newtown was horrific, but can we agree that what the media does after something like this happens is horrible as well? 

I cannot begin to comprehend how the families of the victims are coping right now. What I can comprehend is the invasion of privacy the families must be feeling. Each time events like this happen; the media storms the area and sensationalizes the tragedy. And for what? Ratings? More money from advertisers?

The media may very well benefit from this tactic but it leads to negative consequences. The families lose their right to grieve in private. They have people camped out trying to interview them or get that great picture of them suffering as they head into a place of worship to hold a funeral for their sweet, beautiful child that was taken far too soon.

I find it immoral to hear of interviews of children that were in the building and watched and/or heard the shooting that took so many lives. The only thing stopping the sensationalizing of the shooter is that fact that the police have done an incredible job at keeping the information of the investigation close to the vest. 

I applaud the department for looking out for the best interest of the town. Perhaps the fact that they are withholding information for the best interest of the public will prevent a copycat killer from becoming the next big “star” of the news. 

One of the victims from Friday was laid to rest Monday. His funeral was held in the town that I live in. Governor Malloy attended the funeral and with that the engaging child’s family and friends had to endure a media frenzy that followed due to his attendance. Do you really think that was best for the family?

Monday, children returned to school and parents wondered how the kids would fare as the main topic of conversation inevitably turned to the mass killing of Sandy Hook Elementary. Parents worried as their children headed to the bus stop wondering what extra safety measures would the schools put in place to deal to protect their sweet beautiful children.

My children and thousands like them in my town faced a number of armed police patrols guarding their buildings. My children listened to story after story of teachers who weren’t in school today because they live in Newtown and knew children or teachers that perished on Friday. I am lucky to live in a town that can afford to provide extra police protection to my children but wish they could still have that bit of innocence that they lost on Friday.

My request to the media, after this long dialogue, is this: don’t make the perpetrator of these crimes into stars. Make the headlines be about the heroes in the story…the teachers that do everything to protect innocent lives and the first responders who put an end to more violence and victims. Don’t explore how a mother of a mentally ill son failed him; do an in-depth story on mental illness and the resources parents have available to help these children.

You have the power to change the conversation. Use it to the best possible advantage.

 

Kelly O’Neil

Fairfield, CT

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