We’ve all shed tears for stories we’ve written

John Coffelt

In last week’s column by Editor Elena Cawley, she touches on how many times of late the community has been rocked by the death of one its own.

It’s all too easy to see the press as an impersonal recorder of news. We are a fly on the wall, working to not impart our opinion in the narrative.  While in striving to be impartial, our language and demeanor sometimes comes off as detached, we are not robots – the story affects us too. We feel the loss, get angry at the injustice and sometimes cry in silence with the people that we cover.

For me, one story that brought me to tears came not too long after my oldest boy was born. I was working on the obituary of an infant death.

The image of having to leave Sean, lifeless and alone at the funeral home overwhelmed me and still sometimes haunts me to this day. I’m not implying that my reaction was anything compared to what a family experiences. But this was the first time that I’d ever had to step away.

Empathy, to be able to feel what someone else is feeling, is an understated attribute of a good storyteller. But it’s hard and it takes a toll. Maybe that’s why old reporters get jaded, others bitter. But for those that learn to balance, know when to step back and box their tears and fears for later, those are the best writers. The rest of us, all we can do it keep trying to tell the story.   

We are members of the community. We’re your neighbors, the people you see in line at grocery and cheering our kids at the soccer game. We are community and one of you.        

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