News Is Not Always Easy To Read Or Report
Readers and residents had two very unsettling events take place last week.
First, there was a security concern at one of the schools during the morning of November 30.
Second, in the immediate aftermath of what happened, this newspaper was taken to task for its word choices.
As we were finishing the print edition of December 1 last Thursday morning, around 9:15 am we began hearing reports of something unfolding and local police officers responding to the school in question. We waited until we felt it was time to address the police presence at the school, and we reported what we had been hearing unfold.
The thing is, we did not misreport what happened. We did, however, make the mistake of sharing information as it was still happening. In many situations — not just emergencies — we all know that sometimes things are not what they initially seem.
Our word choices echoed what we were hearing. They were not incendiary. Nor were they clickbait. Again, they conveyed what we were hearing.
We were criticized for using a few words that readers did not agree with. We were told we couldn’t possibly understand what seeing or hearing those words can do to those who were here on 12/14.
We know the power and importance of words. We were careful last week, and we worked through our own angst while reporting breaking news. That’s one of many challenges with this job. Being the bearer of bad or frightening news means people are not always going to like what we say, even when it is the truth.
We too are people who live and work here. We are parents, siblings, and even children of those who attend and/or work in this town’s school system. Many of us are still here 11 years after 12/14. Listening to the events of last Thursday morning in real time was no easier on us than it was to many others.
Readers and residents wanted to know what was happening. We began hearing from people who wanted to know why so many police cruisers were clearly responding to something. It is our job to inform, and that is what we did.
Conversely, if we did not cover the event at all, or waited longer to report on what happened, we would be hearing from people asking why we weren’t on top of something that appeared to be an emergency that was happening in this town.
By early Thursday afternoon, Newtown PD announced that Thursday morning was a “swatting” incident, meant to instill fear and create a response by first responders to a location where there is no real emergency.
We offer our apologies to Newtown Police Department and to the staff of Sandy Hook School. We apologize for making your job more difficult than it already is.
The Newtown Bee is a valued news source. There is a reason why we have withstood the challenges of time, shifting economics, and even the growing mistrust of media in general and the love of social media. We are trustworthy, and we are reliable. We are still the newspaper of record for Newtown, Connecticut, and we will remain in our post until we absolutely exhaust all resources.
We thank our readers for the decades of trust this newspaper has earned.