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Bill_T
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Early Chapters Discussion: Reporting on Grief

Is the depiction of the media frenzy surrounding Becky and Ruthie's death's authentic? Would reporters intrude in this way on a family's grief?


Note: This discussion topic is particularly suitable for readers who have only read the first part of Cage of Stars, through the end of Chapter Seven. If you wish to discuss plot elements introduced later in the book, consider posting in a separate thread.

Click on "Reply" to post your thoughts about this discussion topic, or click "New Message" on the main page to start a new topic thread.
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splash
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Reporting on Grief

I think anyone who watches the news would agree that reporters would descend like vultures on this family during their grief. I am constantly amazed at the insensitivity of journalists, especially at the death of a child, to get the scoop. In their defense, if we as people were not so enthralled by such news maybe they would be able to report such events in a more sympathetic way. I found the invasion into the families life, especially in regard to Ronnie, offensive. But it's the same way I feel when I watch a reporter stick a microphone into someone's face after a personal tragedy has ocurred.
freedom
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Bill_T
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Reporting on Grief

Welcome, splash, to the discussion.

I think that what you're accurately describing is a vicious circle: the desire to make other peoples' suffering our own entertainment is apparently a strong one. And so predatory news programs are born to fill that need. What's particularly clear here is the idea that Ronnie's story is going to require the complexity that only a long, fully-told, and not very TV-ready narrative can satisfy. As if to say, that's where the truth is -- not in the soundbite or the moment the reporter "invades" a grieving family's life.

I wonder what others think?



splash wrote:
I think anyone who watches the news would agree that reporters would descend like vultures on this family during their grief. I am constantly amazed at the insensitivity of journalists, especially at the death of a child, to get the scoop. In their defense, if we as people were not so enthralled by such news maybe they would be able to report such events in a more sympathetic way. I found the invasion into the families life, especially in regard to Ronnie, offensive. But it's the same way I feel when I watch a reporter stick a microphone into someone's face after a personal tragedy has ocurred.

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vivico1
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Reporting on Grief

I think the media frenzy around a grieving family was VERY authentic. And yes, it is a vicious cycle, if the public didn't view it with such curiousity, they would have no audience and there would be no frenzy for it then. Here's the deal, we see daily how movie stars and famous people are bombarded by the media and squeeze in on them so much they cant breath...but we watch. You are not going to see that over some non-famous kid who went out drinking and showed things they shouldn't or on the other hand, one who won medals at school for something they did (especially if its not going get them a famous sports deal in their future). News about common folk seems not to be news,until its tragic. Then the world of media and watchers, think they have some right to impose themselves on someone's personal grief! What is it in really bad things that make it inherantly property of everyone with no thoughts of those going through it? I don't blame Ronnie at all for her feelings.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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lepking
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Reporting on Grief

Bill,
As the mother of a murdered daughter, I was contacted by several news anchors and reporter who wanted to know about my daughter, who she really was. Granted, they wanted my feelings about her death, but they were especially sensitive to my family's grief and privacy. Her death was very high profile and still we were treated with compassion and respect. I became an advocate for domestic violence awareness and was called on frequently to comment on other incidents of DV - i.e., Scott Peterson verdict. lepking
lepking
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Bill_T
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Reporting on Grief

lepking, it's a humbling perspective you bring to the conversation. Thank you for sharing that with us.

I'm looking forward to your responses to Ronnie's story in its totality.



lepking wrote:
Bill,
As the mother of a murdered daughter, I was contacted by several news anchors and reporter who wanted to know about my daughter, who she really was. Granted, they wanted my feelings about her death, but they were especially sensitive to my family's grief and privacy. Her death was very high profile and still we were treated with compassion and respect. I became an advocate for domestic violence awareness and was called on frequently to comment on other incidents of DV - i.e., Scott Peterson verdict. lepking


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JackieM01
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Reporting on Grief

You're absolutely right. As a reporter, 15 years ago, I often was sent to "report" on family's feelings. As if the family's feelings would be anything but utter and horrific grief, I ask you. Those of us who had to do this were as stunned by having to do this as they were having to answer our questions. I remember watching Dan Janzen skate and fall after the death of his beloved sister, Beth, with his family all around me. And they were so close and so loving, they comforted me.
Jackie
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JackieM01
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion:Validity

We believe that to report on things because they happened is important. I still believe it is important. To then report on what has been reported on already becomes a cycle of carrion feeding called "pack" journalism, in which the lesser creatures feed on the leavings of the major predator. It's a sick part of my job. I still am a reporter, by the way, and recently chose to call the families of young men who had died in Iraq on a given date, December 20, simply because I wanted to ask if withdrawing the troops would "dishonor" their sons or brothers. One young man who answered said, no, he didn't, that his brother Nicky had loved being a soldier and always had stories to tell but that no one wanted another person's brother or son to die. I asked him what he did for work. He said, "I'm a lieutenant in the Navy, ma'am." He was 21. His brother was 19. I tried to do this with dignity and gentleness. But I don't know if I succeeded.
Jackie M.
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JackieM01
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: A High -Profile Death

So were Ruthie and Becky's deaths -- the murder of children in a brutal way in a supposedly "safe" place. But I don't think anything justifies questioning a child.
Jackie M.
I was involved in a news story in which a SIX-year-old child was interviewed without asking his parents.
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vivico1
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: A High -Profile Death


JackieM01 wrote:
So were Ruthie and Becky's deaths -- the murder of children in a brutal way in a supposedly "safe" place. But I don't think anything justifies questioning a child.
Jackie M.
I was involved in a news story in which a SIX-year-old child was interviewed without asking his parents.


Holy crap Jackie! How did they even get ahold of the 6 year old to interview him without the parents around??? Is this something you were involved with that we would find on the internet?
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Bill_T
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion:Validity

That's a heartbreaking story, Jackie.




JackieM01 wrote:
We believe that to report on things because they happened is important. I still believe it is important. To then report on what has been reported on already becomes a cycle of carrion feeding called "pack" journalism, in which the lesser creatures feed on the leavings of the major predator. It's a sick part of my job. I still am a reporter, by the way, and recently chose to call the families of young men who had died in Iraq on a given date, December 20, simply because I wanted to ask if withdrawing the troops would "dishonor" their sons or brothers. One young man who answered said, no, he didn't, that his brother Nicky had loved being a soldier and always had stories to tell but that no one wanted another person's brother or son to die. I asked him what he did for work. He said, "I'm a lieutenant in the Navy, ma'am." He was 21. His brother was 19. I tried to do this with dignity and gentleness. But I don't know if I succeeded.
Jackie M.


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hasenbein
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Reporting on Grief

Hi everyone,

I've stopped watching the news and reading much of the newspaper. We, the public, seem to want more and more "action," even in the news. Look at these "reality" shows. Last night one advertised that is will be so real someone may die.

I do want to know about people's pain and either ways in which I can help and/or ways I can learn from this tragedy. Hearing about pain, problems, troubles just for the sake of entertainment leaves me cold. Often I listen to people's story long after the event, after they've been able to grieve, heal a little, and want to share.

I'm encouraged that one of our group had a positive experience with the media. It gives me hope!

KathyH
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lepking
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Reporting on Grief/Media

As I have said, my experience with media during the trial was a positive one. I don't know if it is standard, but only one camera was allowed in the courtroom from one station and that station was required to share the tape with the other network news channels. Thus, there was no camera frenzy. There were reporters there, but they respected that there was a gag order in place. There was a spot every night on the 4 channels for two weeks, but they did not sensationalize or feed on our grief. For this I am thankful. lepking
lepking
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cindersue
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Reporting on Grief

Not only was the media buzzing around about Ronnie and her family, so was the hospital. Remember the nurses gossiping? They were laughing and talking cruel. I liked how Ronnie stood up to them, how it took a lot of courage to speak for a 12 year old. The author made this very realistic as the nurses talked and shared the stories they heard. My son was in ICU for 6 hours this fall with possible paralysis. With the use of the internet today, boy did the rumors fly! Just last week I was asked if he was still in a home where he couldn't wiggle his toes and fingers. My son was never paralyzed ... thankfully.
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vivico1
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Reporting on Grief


cindersue wrote:
Not only was the media buzzing around about Ronnie and her family, so was the hospital. Remember the nurses gossiping? They were laughing and talking cruel. I liked how Ronnie stood up to them, how it took a lot of courage to speak for a 12 year old. The author made this very realistic as the nurses talked and shared the stories they heard. My son was in ICU for 6 hours this fall with possible paralysis. With the use of the internet today, boy did the rumors fly! Just last week I was asked if he was still in a home where he couldn't wiggle his toes and fingers. My son was never paralyzed ... thankfully.


Glad to hear about your son, thank goodness. You are right about the hospital too. And its so well written and real that you feel you are right there with Ronnie hearing all this and it sounds very very real. For Ronnie to say anything to them took courage through pain and then look how they reacted. I think it is wonderful that the one nurse came back to apologize and sit with her. That one little scene at the hospital is a really good lesson to us all about gossip and how it hurts us all. I think there is something we could all take away from that part of the story. If we all engaged our brains before our mouths it would help lol. Its a good, important part of the story for several reasons and I am glad you reminded us of that scene because if we all thought about what we say...would I say this if "they" where here, or... if i thought about it, would i be embarrassed being caught saying this, would I then say it? We might all speak a little kinder about and to each other. :smileyhappy:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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JackieM01
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Six Year Old

They interviewed him in a theater about another child's behavior (this was not a life-or-death incident but very inappropriate) and quoted him, by name.
Jackie M.
His mother was there, nearby, but not particpant.
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JackieM01
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: I've spent a great deal of hospital time

with seven kids, and have heard people talk about how much I, for example, resemble THAT AUTHOR, and what a so-and-so she's reputed to be. My middle son once said, as a nurse told me that, "As far as her being a so-and-so, every word is true. Isn't it, MOM?"
Jackie M.
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Wrighty
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Reporting on Grief/Media


lepking wrote:
As I have said, my experience with media during the trial was a positive one. I don't know if it is standard, but only one camera was allowed in the courtroom from one station and that station was required to share the tape with the other network news channels. Thus, there was no camera frenzy. There were reporters there, but they respected that there was a gag order in place. There was a spot every night on the 4 channels for two weeks, but they did not sensationalize or feed on our grief. For this I am thankful.
lepking




I'm glad that you had a positive experience with the media. I've never been involved with a trial but it seems that the victim is often vilified by those that represent the criminal. And then that gets exploited in the media. The more outrageous the story the bigger the headline. But have you ever noticed if the information is wrong, a retraction is usually very tiny and buried on some inside page?

A good reporter should be compassionate and honor the wishes of the victim's family. I understand that the news needs to be reported but it can be done tastefully and still done well. The things that happen in Hollywood are a circus. Brittney Spears, Anna Nicole...do we really need to know every single detail? I know it's a vicious cycle, as was already mentioned, but it gets taken too far.
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Wrighty
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hospital scene


vivico1 wrote:

cindersue wrote:
Not only was the media buzzing around about Ronnie and her family, so was the hospital. Remember the nurses gossiping? They were laughing and talking cruel. I liked how Ronnie stood up to them, how it took a lot of courage to speak for a 12 year old. The author made this very realistic as the nurses talked and shared the stories they heard. My son was in ICU for 6 hours this fall with possible paralysis. With the use of the internet today, boy did the rumors fly! Just last week I was asked if he was still in a home where he couldn't wiggle his toes and fingers. My son was never paralyzed ... thankfully.


Glad to hear about your son, thank goodness. You are right about the hospital too. And its so well written and real that you feel you are right there with Ronnie hearing all this and it sounds very very real. For Ronnie to say anything to them took courage through pain and then look how they reacted. I think it is wonderful that the one nurse came back to apologize and sit with her. That one little scene at the hospital is a really good lesson to us all about gossip and how it hurts us all. I think there is something we could all take away from that part of the story. If we all engaged our brains before our mouths it would help lol. Its a good, important part of the story for several reasons and I am glad you reminded us of that scene because if we all thought about what we say...would I say this if "they" where here, or... if i thought about it, would i be embarrassed being caught saying this, would I then say it? We might all speak a little kinder about and to each other. :smileyhappy:




I liked that part as well. That was the kind of gossip that happens all of the time, that people don't think about. I'm sure the nurses wouldn't have even thought anything about it if Ronnie hadn't spoken up. She handled herself so well and so did the nurse when she apologized. That was the way you would hope such an unfortunate incident would turn out.

Cindersue, I hope your son has had a total recovery. :smileyhappy:
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cindersue
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Re: hospital scene/Mormon Life


Wrighty wrote:




I liked that part as well. That was the kind of gossip that happens all of the time, that people don't think about. I'm sure the nurses wouldn't have even thought anything about it if Ronnie hadn't spoken up. She handled herself so well and so did the nurse when she apologized. That was the way you would hope such an unfortunate incident would turn out.

Cindersue, I hope your son has had a total recovery. :smileyhappy:




Glad you're feeling better, Wrightly. :smileywink: My son has a few scars, but no permanent injuries.

When he was in the hospital, we knew a few of the nurses, so we never got the negative talk (at least that we were aware of), like Ronnie. And the nurses seemed sympathic and worried about his recovery. However, nurses are human, and we all know people gossip. Ronnie seemed to have a somewhat sheltered life before the murders. Her family/home were happy, positive experiences. Was this because she's being raised as a Mormon? Mormon's shepard to every member of their church. I believe all religions did way back when, but now our world has become so mobile, that many churches have gotten away from this. The Mormon church has not lost the human touch and fellowship shared amongst their members. Ronnie is now being exposed to the cruel part of our world. And she has to deal with this by herself as her parents are dealing with their grief too. I am enjoying following Ronnie, seeing the messages she's receiving from her Mormon friends, and listening to her feelings as she deals with her emotional, growing pains, so to speak.
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