Sunday, June 28, 2009

Trauma in the Public Eye

One of the things you can expect about traumatic incidents is that they very frequently are covered in the media. The very things that make them traumatic -- the unexpectedness, the fear they cause, etc. -- are the things that sell newspapers (or, in this day and age, online advertising).

The Quarterback was thinking about this while reading a story on the local newspaper's website about a local man who was shot by police after allegedly killing his mother and setting fire to the house. If you read the story, there are very few details, including any information at all about who the man was, what if anything led up to the incident, and what he was doing when the police shot him. If you read the comments below the story, you start to see the holes get filled in, some with speculation, some with apparently relevant information, and some where you can't really tell. Here are some examples:
Simple enough, the guy ran and they shot him down like a dog.
Well by the end of this year, Washtenaw County will pay out another $4 Million for a civil case settlement. Before this Deputy involved is righfully cleared of his actions.
Who shooting who.. Yesterday, story was pepole shooting at cops today they shoot back,with good aim..Deadly Aim.Who cares other then thoses involved. Gun owners should be striped of all guns. NO GUNS NO PROLBEMS!!!!
This is such a sad case of Mental Illiness and not reciving the help he should of received. I will keep I.B in my prayers and also his loved ones. I have known him for many years and cannot express my feelings for the family enough to say may you find peace in the creator to find comfort in each other and for the many friends that stay behind you in this awful tradgy [sic].

This last one gave the Quarterback pause. It's easy to forget, when you read these things and particularly when you get sucked into the trollish world of blog posting on news sites, that just because the facts aren't in the article doesn't mean there aren't any to be had. Folks (including the Quarterback) who write about public events and include a lot of speculation can easily start to believe their speculation is fact.

Somewhere, there are relatives and friends of this mother and this son. They know far more about the situation than we do. And they are trying to process what happened. Undoubtedly there is blame being thrown around, there always is. But what there isn't, most likely, is a discussion of county budgets or gun control. What there is is context. Never a bad idea to remember that every new story has it, and few accurately report it.


Meet the Quarterback

My Photo
Naomi Zikmund-Fisher
is a clinical social worker, former school Principal and a Crisis Consultant for schools and community organizations. You can learn more about her at
View my complete profile

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Quarterback for Kindle