Tucson shooting coverage, aftermath

Congresswoman Gabbrielle Giffords
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords held a lot of events open to the public in Tucson

Anytime there’s a big story like the shooting in Tucson – you can’t help but glue yourself to the TV to watch the latest developments. For me, it’s like an all day event despite little information that is reported. But when it’s in your backyard – it’s surreal. I shopped at the Safeway where the shooting occurred. I lived less than a mile away. So to see the video of that area and to see people in panic is pretty disturbing. To not be there covering it…just as difficult.

The day of the shooting,  a lot of my colleagues at KVOA-TV (NBC, Tucson) were on the major cable stations giving updates of what had happened. That, in itself, was interesting to watch. I feel everyone who worked at a TV station in that market did a fine job that day given the consequences. Most of us know Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. We’ve covered plenty of events she’d put on in Tucson. And what I know of her, she’s a very friendly woman. To see something like this happen to her and the other victims is pathetic.

We’re all trained in the news business to ‘cover the story’ no matter how horrible it is – or how close it hits home. I remember watching the coverage and thinking about the coverage more than what had just happened at times. It’s not that I wasn’t horrified and saddened at what happened, it’s just the job and how we attach ourselves to it.

But days later the seriousness of what happened usually sets in, for me anyway. It takes awhile to get to that point. When it’s happening, your mind is thinking about: how to cover the story? Who do we need to talk to? What is the next angle? It sounds a bit absurd given the circumstances – but again, it’s how most of us cover major stories. I like to think of it as auto-pilot.

Martha Vasquez on NBC's Nightly News regarding the Tucson Tragedy
My good friend KVOA Anchor Martha Vazquez speaking on NBC Nightly News

I am proud of my fellow colleagues in Tucson for being so professional and ‘keeping it together’ in such a time of shock and sadness. I can imagine how crazy that newsroom was during the ordeal. I know the story will continue to be a big one there for a long time to come. I know Gabby has a long road to recovery (but her condition right now astonishes me! It’s so good to see she’s improving), and I know the families who lost loved ones or were injured will need a lot of time to heal. But it’s the sad reality that there will always be unstable people out there who create such big headlines and affect so many people’s lives.

Sadly in TV, we see it and have to cover it far too often.

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Josh Benson

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Josh Benson


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