Suzanne McCarroll, a reporter at Denver CBS O&O KCNC for 30 years, reflects on her experience covering both the 1999 Columbine shooting and the recent Aurora movie theater shooting in an essay for Poynter. McCarroll points out that although her career in local news “might seem dull” to a foreign network correspondent, in reality it has been anything but:
But no one told me I’d be interviewing parents who lost their children because they went to school at one day. No one warned me that the deaths of young people would come, not in a war zone, but in a suburban movie theater.
I never envisioned that not once, but twice, in my career, I would have parents come up to me frantic and fearful, begging for news of their children, only to tell them I had no news to share. Their children, first at Columbine High School, and now at Theater Nine in Aurora, were dead.
Somehow, in my journalism classes at Stanford, no professors warned me that I would have to report on live TV while fighting tears. My journalism classes didn’t teach me how to act composed when fear and heartbreak were my prevailing emotions. Somehow my study in journalism didn’t prepare me for the emotional eavesdropping I do during the worst moment in a parent’s life.