Layers of tragedy

We’re only beginning to hear the real stories of tragedy from the hurricane.

This morning on Good Morning America, a reporter stopped a man in the street just to ask how he was and she heard how his home split in half and he lost his wife when she told him to stop holding her so he could save their children and grandchildren. The reporter could not stop from crying. I don’t think anyone could.

And then a reporter — Robin; I lost her last name — went to her hometown, Gulfport, and the shock was clear. The anchor in New York asked whether he family was OK and she could not stop from crying. Who could? They were safe. She said that in other cases, she would have brought her cameas with her, but she did not; this was too private, too difficult.

Reporters are human, too.

  • Uncle Fester

    Perhaps I am misreading, and perhaps I am too cynical, but the way I read this is that it’s to intrude on SOMEONE ELSE’S grief (like that guy who lost his wife), but somehow the reporter’s misery is too private.

    I’d love to be wrong about this.

  • Robin Roberts. She’s been news anchor on GMA since 2002.

  • perhaps i’m too cynical too, but we’ve been at war for how many years and when we finally see the grief of one mother of a slain US soldier who wants to do a tad bit more than cry we sit back and let her get smeared by callous partisan namecallers.

    the media are no better than bloggers. they just have deeper voices.

  • How else are we as a society to prompt people to donate money? By appealing to their compassion and shared empathy. It is a necessary evil to have these people “intrude” and report on a disaster (to which people are strangely drawn, rather like rubbernecking a car crash on the highway).

  • whodat

    Yeah but they are intruding–mostly–for the wrong reasons. Hence all the branding.

  • It was far more fun listening to Brian Williams freaking out at 6 a.m. N.O. time while the flood waters were rising. At least his hysterics weren’t involving anyone else in the immediate vicinity. And they were indeed kind of funny.

  • Fester:
    Yes, I would say you far too cynical.
    These are people faced with tragedy and they have the reaction any person should have.
    We ask our journalists to be more honest, transparent, human… and then we smash them when they are.
    Be fair. They’re there. You’re not. If you were there and did not react to the tragedy you saw, then you’d be accused of being cynical and inhuman.
    Reporters are people too. Give them that respect.

  • Jim S


    The reporter had no idea of what had happened to the man who lost his wife until she asked the question. It is intruding when the tragedy is already apparent and further questions are being pushed.

  • April S.

    I’m all the way up here in NH watching all of this on T.V. Hearing that man’s tragic story of his wife being swept away. The reporter did no harm in asking. That man may have had no one to talk to, no one to vent his loss and frustration to, so he told his story to a reporter and I am glad…for it makes me think about the hundreds of stories we will here over the next year or more of love, loss, heroism, death and of the many that will not be told. That woman has some one to remember her…some people will not. Stop wasting time and energy on complaining about what a reporter did or did not do or feel! At least she is there, sending pictures and stories into our homes. And if you don’t like it, CHANGE THE CHANNEL…or TURN OFF YOUR P.C.!

    My family and I would like to send our deepest sympathy and prayers to all the victims and survivors of Katrina. God Bless You All.

  • John N.

    I agree with Fester. The reporter didn’t take her cameras with her, because she knew in advance it would be personal. Didn’t the GMA reporter know in advance that things would be very personal for anyone interviewed? Of course the reporter knew, but it didn’t matter because it was someone stranger’s grief.

    Jeff, fester is not blaiming the reporters for crying, if I understand him. I don’t either. What makes me uncomfortable is the double standard of the GMA reporter. Her suffering is too personal to be in the news, but not that of a stranger. That’s a human reaction too, and perhaps one that is widespread in the ranks of the professionals. And that sort of (un)conscious editing colors the news in ways that are difficult to adjust for if you don’t know the people.

  • Reading over these old posts, after all these years, it’s sad to think that the fate of the city of New Orleans is still uncertain. I hope that the local, state and federal agancies can mobilize the resources to save this cultural icon. If it can be done in the Netherlands, it can certainly be done in New Orleans… if the price is right.