Several news outlets have pledged not to report from Newtown on Dec. 14, the one-year anniversary of the massacre that claimed the lives of 26 students and staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year. The stay-away pledges come in deference to Newtown officials, who have asked to be left alone on this occasion. Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra issued an appeal on Monday: “We don’t need to be reminded. We don’t need to relive it. We live it every day. We carry it with us.”
USA Today Editor in Chief David Callaway said, “We’ll respect the wishes of the people of Newtown.” Sources at ABC News and NBC News tell the Erik Wemple Blog they’re also going to skip a physical presence Newtown on the 14th. “NBC News will respect the town’s wishes and our broadcasts have no plans to be in Newtown for the anniversary,” a network official said. CNN, too, won’t be setting up shop in Newtown.
The Associated Press has other ideas. “We will be in Newtown on the anniversary,” noted AP spokesman Paul Colford in an e-mail. AP East Region Editor Karen Testa explained, “We have covered every aspect of this tragedy from the beginning. As we have from the day of the shooting, we will be sensitive to the families and the town and respectful in our coverage.”
There’s no question that Newtown was fed up with the media occupation that descended on the town a year ago. It was oppressive. Newtown began razing Sandy Hook Elementary School in the fall, deciding “against holding a public ceremony to mark the event to avoid media coverage,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
The AP’s determination to hover in Newtown on the 14th isn’t a snub to those town officials who’ve voiced concern about media occupation. The wire service covers pretty much everything. The struggles of Newtown to recover from tragedy is a process that very much merits coverage, too, and the AP recently clocked in with this feature piece centered around a family’s attempts to cope with the loss of a little girl. If the AP feels it needs to be in town on the day of the anniversary, then it should proceed, with all the sensitivity and respect that it has promised.