December 5, 2013

WSFB-TV | The New York Times | Mediaite | CNN | Associated Press

On December 14, Hartford’s WFSB-TV will not be in Newtown, Conn.

“As we approach the somber anniversary of the mass shooting inside Sandy Hook Elementary School, Channel 3 Eyewitness News has made the decision to stay out of Newtown that day out of respect for the community,” the station announced on its website Tuesday.

A Newtown First Selectman asked media to stay away and give the town the chance to be together without an audience, WFSB reports.

“As a result of the request, Channel 3 Eyewitness News has made a promise to keep our crews away from Newtown, barring any unexpected event, to give people in the community time to be with each other to reflect on the events of that day.”

Attorneys for Newtown released recordings of 911 calls during the Newtown shooting Wednesday. Most media outlets have so far handled the Wednesday release of the 911 tapes from the Newtown shooting with caution, Bill Carter reported in The New York Times.

While two local Connecticut newspapers rushed to make the full recordings available on their websites, the state’s largest paper, The Hartford Courant, initially posted only a story about the tapes, before adding a video with excerpts later in the afternoon.

Carter reported that CNN and MSNBC reported on the release of the tapes Wednesday afternoon, but didn’t air them.

On Wednesday night, Carter reported, NBC and ABC didn’t use audio when reporting about the tapes, while CBS said that they would.

Matt Wilstein reported for Mediaite Wednesday that Fox News was the first network to air the tapes. Host Shephard Smith “told Fox viewers that the calls ‘capture a mix of chaos and calm professionalism as a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School and murdered children and teachers one by one. Fox News will not be airing the most gut-wrenching moments from those calls.’

“We and our managers have listened to all the recordings that came in that day,” he continued, “and out of respect for the victims we will be very sensitive with what we do put on Fox News Channel and all across all of our platforms throughout the day and the days to come.”

Brian Stelter and Michael Pearson reported for CNN Thursday that CNN did broadcast a portion of the tapes Wednesday evening.

The network’s report, preceded by anchor Jake Tapper’s warning of disturbing content, also included a call from a teacher who had been shot in the foot and one from a janitor who relayed information between police and dispatchers.

Immediately after the airing, a CNN legal analyst said the decision to air the recordings was wrong.

“Other than pure titillation, I don’t see any public interest served by this whatsoever,” Mark Geragos said.

Michael Melia and Jack Gillum wrote about the content of the tapes for the Associated Press. The story quotes Teresa Rousseau, an editor at the Danbury News-Times, whose daughter, an educator, was killed that day. She said she wasn’t planning on listening to the tapes.

“I think there’s a big difference between secrecy and privacy,” she said. “We have these laws so government isn’t secret, not so we’re invading victims’ privacy.”

Kathleen Carroll, AP executive editor and senior vice president, said in the story that what happened in Newtown was a horrible crime.

“It’s important to remember, though, that 911 tapes, like other police documents, are public records. Reviewing them is a part of normal newsgathering in a responsible news organization.”

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Kristen Hare covers the people and business of local news and is the editor of Locally at Poynter. She previously worked as a staff writer…
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