Anything & Everything

October 10, 2007

Boston Media: You Should Be Ashamed…

Warren Payne, L; Robert Cahill, RI’m truly disappointed, but sadly not one bit surprised, by both the print and broadcast media’s shameful coverage of autopsy findings (not public record, by the way) on firefighters Paul Cahill, 55, and Warren Payne, 53. The two men were killed fighting a fast moving restaurant fire in West Roxbury on August 29, 2007.

What has been done to these two men — to their reputations, to their wives and children and families, to everyone who knew and cared about them — goes beyond despicable to utterly reprehensible. That personal information print and broadcast reporters so rabidly fought for, delivered by a source who gets the luxury of remaining unnamed, was not ours to know. It was no one’s business… a private matter that changed nothing. The public had no right to this. The media had no right to this.

Worse yet, members of the media don’t even have the guts to call this pursuit what it is, the obscenity of morbid curiosity and a desperate scramble for an exclusive. Right and wrong, if they enter into it at all, are quickly silenced by the desire for the hot story. Instead reporters and broadcasters crow about the First Amendment and the public’s “right to know” as if this gives you a pass on exercising a bit of conscience or decency or simple respect for the dead.

Tell me, what right does the media have to publicize the personal medical information of two men who are private citizens, who died protecting us? How many of the media could stand up to that kind of scrutiny? It doesn’t seem to matter to anyone that the details so gleefully reported do nothing but bring needless pain and embarrassment to families and friends already grieving. The fire that took Paul and Warren’s lives did not burn because of what they had, or did not have, in their systems.

What the media learned and were only too anxious to report changes nothing. These brave men died fighting a fire… a noble sacrifice that deserves respect and reverence. As far as I know, the First Amendment doesn’t give the media the right to smear the reputations, to demean the worthy sacrifice of men who were brave enough to risk their lives every day.

Men who aren’t here to defend themselves.

Of course I wouldn’t expect ambitious, striving media types to give this one bit of consideration… scruples are inconvenient companions after all. I can only hope some viewers, maybe a few readers, start to see the media as the souless, sanctimonious, self-righteous jackals they seem so often to be.

My heart and best wishes go out to both the Payne and Cahill families. I’m truly sorry for your loss. And I’m profoundly sorry that someone you love got in the way of the never-ending, rabid pursuit of breaking news.

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4 Comments »

  1. Bravo. My sentiments exactly, but unfortunately sensationalism will always prevail over common decency. It’s a shame. I enjoyed touring your blog.

    Ginger Simpson
    http://mizging.blogspot.com

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    Comment by Ginger Simpson — November 26, 2007 @ 9:23 pm | Reply

  2. It was once thought that progress or expansionism in America for the sake of it was part of divine order or destiny, also known as Manifest Destiny. It became the reason and justification for all measure of violence, because God wanted America to be big. There was no accountability, especially individual accountability, when it came to conquering territory in the name of America. I see this brand of journalism in the same light. I don’t know the whole story about these firefighters–I don’t need to know the whole story–but it sounds like these journalists figured that somewhere it had been decreed that all news was meant to be aired. No thinking, no accounting, no caring required. It’s sad when people give up their right and responsibility to care.
    Kathe

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    Comment by Kathe Gogolewski — November 28, 2007 @ 1:52 am | Reply

  3. I agree. I think what the media did to those families terrible. I just hope the families can overcome the devastation of their loss and the invasion of their privacy by the uncaring and reprehensible media.

    Elena

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    Comment by Elena Dorothy Bowman — November 28, 2007 @ 6:32 pm | Reply

  4. I agree. I think what the media did to those families was terrible. I just hope the families can overcome the devastation of their loss and the invasion of their privacy by the uncaring and reprehensible media.

    Elena

    Like

    Comment by Elena Dorothy Bowman — November 28, 2007 @ 6:34 pm | Reply


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