Awkward and Tough

It’s been over a year since Newtown. I wanted to write this post before Dec. 14, but I thought better of it. I knew I needed to wait. I didn’t have a reason why (I still don’t), but I needed to wait.

I’ve written about Newtown before and it hasn’t been easy.

Some of my best writing has come from Newtown, which is awful to say, but covering three vigils last December and the story package we had this past weekend was something to remember.

It’s never easy to broach the conversation, but, I feel, it’s good for people to talk to someone, other than a family member or friend, who just wants to hear what you have to say.

At the Chronicle we came up with the idea to do something a bit different with our Newtown coverage. To localize it, we decided to interview parents of elementary school-aged children in our districts. We asked them if they felt their children were safe and how they, as parents, have possibly changed since last December.

Before I even called anyone, I was freaking out. I had a gut feeling no one was going to talk to me. I figured, since they are parents, they just wouldn’t want to. Newtown affected each person a bit differently. Many people are still grieving. And that’s more than okay. What happened in Newtown, though I have yet to go into the town, haunts me each day (that’s another post).

I got my list of parents and I started calling. For many, I left long, awkward messages asking them for a bit of their time to talk about the safety of their children in the shadow of Newtown. For some, I got the mothers right away and we just started talking.

What I thought were going to be five-minute conversations turned into half-hour scrolls of how they handled it that day with their children to how nervous they get out in public. It was simply amazing.

These were the interviews where you didn’t have to ask any questions. Once you told them the topic they took it and ran with it. It was something I will never forget.

Mike had Louisa and I work on it together, effectively splitting up our “Big 5” towns and getting as many parents as we could. The story that came out of those interviews is easily one of my top five best stories of my life

You can read it here:

Keeping Newtown close to their hearts Local parents continue to cope with the tragedy.

I’ve read it probably 10 times and I just remember covering all of the vigils and memorials last year. Whether it was 26 bells at a church in Lebanon or 26 candles at the high school auditorium in Coventry, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget the 26 people who were gunned down last year.

This story is about the healing process and how it’s not as easy as turning a new page in life. Safety and security mean more to parents than ever before.

These were mostly children. Babies. They were just babies…

Jonathan

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What You Should Be Reading: Newtown and FOI

via salon.com

via salon.com

I’ve debated about doing this post since I found out about the secret formation of this bill.

I’m worried about what this could mean for journalists and the general public.

Even the state police union had some words to say about this bill, in favor of everything.

My editors and I have been talking about this bill since we found out about it.

To be frank, they aren’t happy and I don’t blame them.

One of them said there should be a lawsuit “if there isn’t one already.”

While all of this is going on, the FOI Commission is ordering the release of Newtown records. The AP had requested documents, shortly after the shooting, in December of last year.

Newspapers across the state have been writing editorials on the release of the records for months now.

It’s not often you see all of them in agreement, but go here, here, here and here.

Where is the trust in the public? Why was this done in secret, against normal procedures? Where was the public hearing process that normal legislation runs through?

The precedence this sets is immeasurable right now, but it’s something to keep an eye on. And, if I know Connecticut newspapers, this won’t go away anytime soon.

From people that I’ve spoken with, many have said they don’t see a problem with the release of the Newtown records.

What do you think?

Jonathan

Covering Sadness

via theobamadiary.com

via theobamadiary.com

I heard about the vigil in Willimantic on Friday through my boss. I thought about it for a bit. I knew I was going, but I wasn’t sure if I could handle it. Since Friday, a lot of things have gone through my head and, at that time, I just wasn’t sure if I could physically and emotionally do that.

I thought about it for a bit and confirmed with my boss that I would go.  I thought about it the rest of Friday night and all of Saturday. I went through the motions, but it never left my thoughts. I was nervous, sad and unsure of what was going to happen. I had no idea. I had to psych myself up for it. That may sound a bit weird, but, that’s just me being honest.

It was hard to keep myself together. There were a couple moments where I thought I was going to lose it, though.

Over 300 people showed up on Saturday night. I couldn’t believe it. It was an intense showing of community support and I was glad to be a part of it.

I didn’t talk to anyone that cried during the vigil. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I still had a great story from everyone that I already knew. They were looking for me, it seemed. They would start talking and they couldn’t stop. I could hear the sadness in their voices.

I’m going to another vigil tonight, this time in Coventry. I know what to expect now. But it still won’t be easy. These are tough times for all of us. I’m going to have to psych myself up again for this one. I know a lot of people in town and it’s going to be really emotional.

I’ll have a post on that vigil, as well.

We are CT.

Jonathan

Nothing Prepares You

via Newseum.org

via Newseum.org

Where were you?

I was in the newsroom and saw it on Twitter. I didn’t think twice about it.

I had no idea. My coworkers had no idea.

I will never forget that office, my desk, what I was thinking, and what followed this past Friday. It will always be with me, just like 9/11,  just like Aurora and just like everything before and in-between that I’ve heard and seen.

What more can I say?

I covered a murder about two months into my pro career. It was an isolated incident and the investigation remains open. I covered an attempted murder about four months after that. That’s now in court in the pre-trail phase.

There is no manual for what happened Friday. There is no easy way of doing things. It’s not something any of us will ever forget. It will stick with us. It will weigh on us.

What do we do?

Tell your family and friends you love them. And then go out of your way to tell them again. Remind them why you love them.

This has taken a huge toll on me. I know it’s changed me. I can tell already, but I don’t know how yet.

Via Facebook

Via Facebook

This week my fellow reporters and I will be covering what happened locally. We’ll be putting a local spin on it and we’ll do the best we can. We will do our jobs and we’ll learn a lot about each other and ourselves.

Jonathan

Tragedy in Newtown, Conn.

I’m not going to say anything about what happened. We all already know. I just wanted to share a few things that I have found this morning.

Thank you for visiting today. Tell the people you care about most that you love them.

Jonathan

Piers Morgan Explodes At Gun Advocate: ‘How Many Kids Have To Die’ Before You Change Your Mind?

Via newseum.org

Via newseum.org

via Newseum.org

via Newseum.org