Journalists have a role to play when tragedy strikes

Gladstone woman Emma Green and her partner Eldean Blake.
Gladstone woman Emma Green and her partner Eldean Blake. Facebook

THURSDAY was one of those days journalists hate.

Something nothing short of tragic happened to a young Gladstone family this week.

It made headlines all over the country and it has already prompted four separate inquiries into what happened.

When I was assigned the story at the start of the day, I knew contacting the family would be part of the gig.

As a young journalist, I've only had to tackle this kind of situation a couple of times.

The lead up to the phone call is never nice.

It can go one of two ways - the family will either want to share their story or, understandably, they'll tell you to go away, and usually not in those words.

My first experience like this came a week or two after starting at the paper.

I was told to ring the family home of a lady who'd died (that morning) in a car accident.

I was lucky in a way; the family was so lovely and wanted to ensure their loved one's memory lived on, that her story was told.

She told me how grateful she was for all the media attention the story had been getting. And perhaps more surprisingly, how sensitive all the media had been towards her family.

I remember after I reported on that accident, I had a heated discussion with my mum and sister about the role of journalists and the rights of the people we write about.

Let's just say if a journo were to contact my sister Steph after a tragic incident, they'd be looking elsewhere for comments.

When I spoke to a family member, I made a big point of saying how sorry I was to contact them at such a difficult time.

Her response overwhelmed me a little.

She told me how grateful she was for all the media attention the story had been getting. And perhaps more surprisingly, how sensitive all the media had been towards her family.

It was refreshing and, believe me, greatly appreciated.

While this poor family had been through something truly terrible, something that's not going to heal anytime soon, they were determined to share the story in the hope that this prevented it happening again.

And they understood the role the media could play in making sure it got the attention and the justice this ordeal deserved.

This is why many of us choose this job. Thursday was one of those days journalists hate.

But it also reminded me of the reason I chose journalism in the first place.



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