Blog: The Educated Reporter

Reporter Shares Lessons From Visiting Family of Sandy Hook Shooting’s Youngest Victim

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the remarkable work of Naomi Zeveloff, a reporter at the Jewish Daily Forward. She received well-earned praise for her detailed and sensitive profile of the mother of the youngest victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.I’ve since had the opportunity to talk with Zeveloff, and you can find my “Five Questions” interview over at EdMedia Commons.

One of the things I wanted to know was how Zeveloff prepared for an assignment as potentially laden with emotion as visiting a family while they were sitting shiva — the traditional Jewish period of mourning — for a 6-year-old. Here’s what Zeveloff, a 2011 graduate of the Columbia Journalism School’s political reporting program, told me:

There’s another reporter at The Forward, Paul Berger, who writes a lot about families who have gone through trauma. I called him the night before (the visit with the family), and I was very nervous. He told me ‘they invited you; they want you there.’ He was right. When people invite you into their lives in the darkest moments of their lives, it’s because they have something to tell you. I was so worried about being intrusive that I couldn’t believe or trust it. This experience has taught me to trust my sources when they say they want to talk.

For more on reporting techniques to handle difficult situations — specifically, how to talk to children who are witnesses to traumatic events — catch a replay of EWA’s recent webinar. You can also get the latest on school climate and safety issues with our new News Topics online resource.


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