In the media storm - The Explorer: Pima Pinal

In the media storm

National outlets show heart, respect

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Posted: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 8:22 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Following the Jan. 8 shooting tragedy in Tucson, a wave of media from around the world flooded the streets, parking lots and hotels on the northwest side of the city. Each one wanted to be the first to break the news that they could then pass along to their fellow followers.

The recent tragedy became one of the top stories around the world, and is one of the biggest news events to take place here in the past several years. That kind of media attention brings a deluge of phone calls to public relations personnel as photographers and videographers attempt to capture the single moment that can tell the viewer everything they need to know.

“The tragedy also brought with it a tremendous amount of local, state, national and international media attention,” said Tamara Crawley, the media relations representative for Marana Unified School District and one of the many local liaisons who were caught in the middle of the media frenzy. “Within an hour of the suspect’s name being released, media inquiries began and have continued over the last 12 days.

“We recognize and respect that media representatives have a job to do, and in this office, we work hard to ensure that we are responding in a timely and efficient manner,” she added.

Some media representatives took their pursuits for photos and answers to the extreme by camping outside teachers’ houses, or calling personal cell phone numbers late into the evening; however, they backed down or retreated when asked to leave.

On the Monday following the shooting, newspaper and television crews lined the front sidewalk of Mesa Verde Elementary School, the school Christina-Taylor Green, 9, attended before being killed in the mass shooting on Jan. 8.

Cameras were there to capture the faces and reactions of some of the parents, kids and teachers coming on to the campus. The next day, Todd Jaeger, associate to the superintendent for Amphitheater School District, refused to allow media on the school’s campus. He did so at the request of his staff.

“In fact, the camera guy started crying when I went up to meet him,” Jaeger said when he told a cameraman and anchorwoman they couldn’t be on the campus anymore. At first, Jaeger thought the man was upset because he was being asked to leave. It turned out the cameraman was overcome with emotions from the event.

According to Jaeger, the man said, “I feel like a heel for even being here. I feel like I am sticking my finger in someone’s wound.”

The anchorwoman told the administrator they understood and were going to leave. But before leaving, the teary-eyed anchorwoman asked Jaeger if she could give him a hug.

“It was just so sweet, endearing and human that it was a good reminder that the media is not as bad as a lot of people play them out to be,” he said.

People called both Jaeger and Crawley numerous times. Both fielded calls from countless people representing various news agencies wanting access to people and information the two were unable to release, legally or otherwise.

“Media was respectful of our processes and respectful of our request to not be on school campus and not be disrupting the learning environment for our staff and students,” Crawley said.

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