One of the questions I get asked the most, is some form of “is it hard to knock on strangers’ doors and ask them to talk about something bad that happened to them?” The simple answer?- Yes.
It’s something I often find my self thinking about before a story. How do I ask these people about their child’s death? How can I request an interview without sounding insensitive? The way I end up doing it, is just by being honest. I try not to ask the irritatingly obvious “how do you feel” question. I can only imagine what I would say if the roles were reversed and someone asked me that.
The reason I want to share these stories, which are sometimes the saddest, and most gut-wrenching to hear, isn’t for “good TV.” Honestly, it’s to help as much as I can. You might be surprised how much a story remembering someone who has passed can help, or how much a story about a tragic accident can call to light a dangerous situation, and save a life down the road.
Over time, some reporters develop a “way” to handle those tough situations. I know as long as I am in this business I will stick to mine. But whenever I do get a family who is willing to share, or a friend who wants to talk, I don’t attribute it to “my way” of asking- I give them full credit. It can’t be easy to talk about something like that. I give them so much credit, because it’s those stories people will remember, learn from, cherish and heal from.
Last week, I had two of those stories in a row.
When I initially told people about the family who lost their 3 year old in a tragic accident when a tree fell on him, some people were shocked the family talked only 3 days after it happened. I wasn’t. I thought it was an amazing show of strength. SO many people will now not only remember their little boy, but will hopefully check their trees in their yards, to prevent it from happening to their loved ones. (Story Recap: Unknown to the parents, a tree in their front yard was rotting and hollow on the inside. On the Sunday before Memorial Day, their 3 year old son was playing in the yard. A heavy breeze came by, knocking the tree to the ground and crushing him. FULL STORY HERE.)
The next day, I talked with another family who had experienced an unfair tragedy. A life-long horse rider fell from her horse during a racing event, and never woke up. 13 days after the accident, she was still in a coma; doctors unsure if she would ever wake up, or be the same again. Once again, the family opened up their lives to me, to help share their story. As you can imagine, the woman’s husband stopped everything to be by her side 24-7. Without work, some bills went to the wayside, not to mention all the extra financial burden the hospital bills would bring. So by opening up, he potentially opened up the opportunity for financial help in addition to emotional. (FULL STORY HERE)
I don’t think I will ever stop getting inspired by stories like this. I am also asked pretty often, if the roles were reversed, would I talk to a television station. Honestly? Yes, I would.