Newtown to the media: Please stay away

  • Article by: JOSEPH BERGER
  • New York Times
  • December 7, 2013 - 7:22 PM


– The people here are adamant: They do not want a return to their streets of the antenna-topped vans from an international array of news media and reporters holding microphones to their faces.

So intent is the town on suppressing attention that officials are urging businesses, churches and institutions to not let TV vans use their parking lots. The police also will be on the lookout for any such vans parked along the winding roads outside of town.

The town will not mark the anniversary of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, which occurred on Dec. 14, 2012, with a public remembrance.

Schools or houses of worship may mark the day with speeches or prayers for the 20 first-graders and six adults who were killed, but there will be no globally broadcast roll call of names, no playing of bagpipes, no honor guards.

“All of these children, they need a chance to be happy,” said Maria Ruggiero, an employee at the Village Perk Cafe, speaking of the town’s children. “This constant reminder of sadness, it needs to stop. That’s why we want the media to stay away.”

Normally, the anniversary of such a tragedy would draw hordes of journalists, as happened with the mass killings at Aurora, Colo., and Virginia Tech. And each year since the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, there has been extensive, live coverage by the news media as the names of the dead are read at a solemn ceremony in downtown Manhattan.

But at least two TV networks — NBC and ABC — say they have no plans to dispatch fully equipped crews to Newtown that day.

One TV executive said that parents had urged his network to stay away because children were still suffering from anxiety and that the sight of TV vans triggered reminders of the shootings.

“NBC News is respecting the town’s wishes and our broadcasts have no plans to be in Newtown for the anniversary,” said Erika Masonhall, a spokeswoman for the network.

CBS News plans to be there, although it already has been turned down for some spots to park trucks.

“Our goal is to have the smallest footprint possible,” said Tim Gaughan, director of special events for CBS News. “We don’t want to be intrusive, but we’re confident we can report the story and not get in the way.”

© 2014 Star Tribune