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

Advertisements

What You Should be Reading: Newtown 911 Tapes

This week the state FOIC ordered Newtown police officials to release the 911 calls made during the attack.

State prosecutors have pledged to appeal the decision in a higher court.

This isn’t the easiest conversation to have with anyone. For Connecticut, it’s a big deal. Actually, it’s more than that.

Papers across the state have been writing about this since the tragedy took place last December.

Do you think the tapes should be released? If not, why?

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

What You Should Be Reading: Newtown updates

via l.yimg.com

via l.yimg.com

A lot has come out in the last week or so about Adam Lanza and the Newtown Massacre. Several warrants were released on Lanza and his mother’s (Nancy Lanza) home.

This isn’t for the faint of heart. This is the real deal. I highly encourage you to see the warrants for yourself, but I must caution you that it’s sickening.

For a summary, the Connecticut State Police provided a news release on the warrants here. It’s the longest release I’ve ever seen from the state police in my time, by far.

As for the investigation, state police provided an explanation that included:

“As mentioned, this is an active, ongoing investigation. No conclusions have been reached and no final determinations have been made. The estimation of completion in the summer remains. After the investigation is complete, I will prepare a report regarding the matter which will include an evaluation of the crimes committed and whether or not there will be any prosecutions as a result. Myself and the investigators ask that the investigative process be respected.”

For a great recap of the new details and Lanza himself, check out the NYT

The Hartford Courant’s editorial from Thursday is, frankly, a must read.  If you read anything today, that should be it.

It’s been a crazy week for Lanza news. It seems like every other week there are new stories about the shooting and Lanza himself. Everyone, even everyone in the newsroom, is on edge with the Newtown news. It’s not easy to think about it, nevertheless read the news about it. But, it’s something we have to live with now.

It’ll never go away.

Jonathan

What You Should Be Reading 2/2

via cbsnews.com

via cbsnews.com | Caleb Moore

Welcome to this week’s “What You Should Be Reading.”

I don’t follow ESPN’s X Games anymore, but I had to include the loss of Caleb Moore. Moore died Thursday from injuries sustained during a snowmobiling competition. To see the crash go here. Moore suffered a concussion and developed bleeding around his heart. He ended up having a complication involving his brain before he died. RIP Caleb.

In more depressing news, there was a terror attack on the U.S. embassy in Turkey that killed two people. A suicide bomber had the explosion go off at the entrance to the building. It’s all just scary to think about. These types of attacks won’t stop anytime soon. We have to realize that.

It’s one thing to keep an eye on.

On the media front, the NYT reported that it was hacked by Chinese hackers. And just today the NYT reported that the WSJ was also hacked by Chinese hackers, as well. This is definitely something that I didn’t believe at first. It’s a great read and should be taken seriously. This is the Grey Lady we are talking about.

I won’t talk about the gun hearings too much, but make sure you watch this:

The Newtown shooting hearings will continue for the foreseeable future and we should all keep an ear, and an eye, to what’s being discussed.

Jonathan

Learning From Vigils

via hypervocal.com

via hypervocal.com

I have been dreading this post. I really have. I promised myself last week that I would write this. I need to do it for me and, I’d be an idiot to not put it up here.

I just think I’m afraid.

Afraid about how that week affected me and taught me about myself. I can’t get “Amazing Grace” out of my head. In some ways, I don’t want to and in many, many ways I don’t want to.

I felt an obligation to cover the three vigils as best as I could. I think I did that. I was hoping for some kind of response from the public, whether it be someone mad I missed something or happy I was there. Neither happened and I’m still not sure how to take that. I know that’s selfish.

Before I wrote this post, I thought I knew what I was going to write and over 150 words in I’m stuck.

Looking back, I know I could have done a better job on all of them. I always say that, but it’s true. I’d change a word here and put in a different quote there. Editing is a curse now.

I went into that week thinking that it wouldn’t affect me. That I would be okay and come out of it without really thinking about what had happened and how terrible it really was. I was wrong. The Newtown tragedy has changed my life. I’m still not sure how yet.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to explain how, either. It’s something that none of will ever forget. And we shouldn’t. It’s importance will only grow as time slowly moves forward. It will always be a part of my life, just like 9/11, just like when BO told me Osama Bin Laden was killed and just like the Arab Spring. Those stay with you.

And they also weigh on you. We don’t think about that. I’m writing about hurt and pain, but I’m also living that pain and hurt. I know that I’m bottling it all up. I don’t really know how to talk about it. I’ve barely talked about it with anyone.

I’m kind of bouncing around it here, avoiding it. At least, I think I am.

I think it’s going to take a few more posts like this to get anywhere.

The vigils were feature stories, but they are more than that. They affected everyone that put the pieces together and everyone that read them. Every person can relate to some aspect of each vigil. It’s “power” isn’t done on purpose. I never tried to over emphasize anything. What everyone read was what happened.

I think about those stories everyday.

They weigh on me.

Jonathan