This last week has been a painful one for many Arizona residents as we have followed the news coverage of the horrific wildfire in Yarnell, Arizona, which took the lives of 19 firefighters. A huge contingency of media gathered in Prescott, Arizona, to cover the aftermath and get reaction from the community. I was one of them, assigned to cover family and friends of the victims. A brutal assignment, but not unfamiliar territory considering the many years I have been in the news business.
Let me start by saying I was impressed on a couple of levels while covering this story. The community of Prescott and its residents were friendly and inviting, despite their grief and shock. They were cooperative with the media, and understood we had a job to do there. Some of the interviews I did there were amongst the most powerful and emotional I have ever witnessed in the news business. I was also blown away by how the community came together during this unbelievably difficult time.
The media did what they do best-they covered the scene, did their best to explain how it happened, they spoke with family and friends of the victims and conducted many interviews along the way. PIO’s provided what information they had to give, cameras recorded countless media conferences, and local and network news outlets filled many hours of programming. So when is enough enough? At the time I am writing this blog, we now have a fairly clear idea as to what happened to these firefighters. We have pictures and background information on all of the victims, including interviews with their families and friends. We have seen maps outlining the fires path, we have countless aerial shots of the fire damaged town, and we have video of the makeshift memorial at their fire station. Most recently, we have ground and aerial shots of the processional of cars carrying the firefighters remains from Phoenix to Prescott.
So why must the media always overstay their welcome? Residents are beginning to run out of patience, and are making their feelings heard at public gatherings. They clearly want to be left alone for the next most difficult of steps-the funerals. Overall, the media has been well received and respected for being sensitive to the situation. So why ruin that positive PR by squeezing every last drop from this story? This is not to suggest the media stops reporting on this major tragedy-just give it a rest until some new information becomes clear.
And give these people what they crave more than anything right now-privacy.