Covering a tragedy

Before I started my internship at WHAG News in Maryland, I told the News Director Mark Kraham that I want to cover breaking news, such as fire. I did cover my first two fire stories during my internship, and one of them was fatal.

I remember in that morning, I was anxiously looking for a story idea because I wanted to get more good stories before I went back to school. Many ideas didn’t work until I heard at least one was killed in a mobile home fire.  I was shocked by the tragedy while my sense of news drove me to the story. I geared up with another reporter Sujata and headed to the spot immediately.

As soon as we arrived the site, we started shooting footages out of the police’s yellow tape while observing the surroundings. The police and fire marshals were still investigating inside, so we try to get more information from the neighborhood. We talked to different people and finally found a neighbor who identified himself as a close friend of the victim family. He turned to be our important source when the victim’s family members had not been there.

Fatal Fire Scene

I would say, this is my best work so far based on my ability to deal with breaking news. The investigation was still going on, so I had to wrap up a package in such a short time with whatever information I had gotten.  What’s more, I would only have had two officials if I hadn’t found the neighbor to add to human interest aspects, although we didn’t use the names of the victims provided by the neighbor since the victims hadn’t been identified. Our station even broadcast the story earlier than the local newspapers.

The most important thing to me about the story is I learned to hold back my emotion, uncomfortableness and fear toward the tragedy and death, and to report the story accurately in a decent manner. I wouldn’t deny my emotion when I watched the burned trailer, knowing that two lives were lost. It is human nature and the respect to lives. However, I told myself that I have to learn to manage it and keep calm, so that I will be able to gather as much information as I could in that situation. I saw a lot of dilemmas and challenges in covering breaking news, especially this tragic story; they made this story important to me and my growth.


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