Back in May, two Manchester, New Hampshire, police officers were shot by a man on some kind of a rampage. The two police officers were injured, but but one was able attend the arraignment for the suspect, Ian MacPherson, several days later.
In the wake of the shooting, Manchester Police spokesman Brian O’Keefe issued the following request to media outlets via email:
Ofc. Hardy will be home, but PLEASE respect his privacy and do not attempt to interview him or his family. He and Officer O’Connor made it clear that they would like space and do not want any media To knock on their door and ask about the shooting.
Again, they will not speak to the media, so please respect their wishes. This is an ordeal for all involved and they wish to be with family and remain private.
If they have a change of heart, maybe we can work on something with them and all media outlets and host a presser. In the meantime, thank you for your anticipated cooperation.
Well, that is a reasonable request presented reasonably. Personally, I would be apt to respect it. I would hope to have a relationship with the local PIO that guarantees I wouldn’t be scooped and would perhaps be a part of that group presser. That said, police shootings are big news and I think reporters can be forgiven for knocking on the door and seeing what happens. I could see myself waiting a couple days and ringing the doorbell. Let the officer say for himself if he didn’t wish to speak. He doesn’t have to open the door. …
But that wasn’t good enough for a television reporter named Amy Coveno, according to media watcher Jim Romenesko.
Three minutes after the PIO’s request, WMUR’s Coveno apparently wrote:
I would take it even further and inform media outlets who violate the request they will be barred from any access to your heroes.
Just my two cents.
Sometimes it’s better to keep your two cents in your pocket.
For one thing, it isn’t our job to suggest sanctions on the media. In fact, our job is the opposite. Let sources sort out their rules; don’t “help” by proposing restrictions on behalf of everyone. Secondly, Coveno is clearly pandering. The injured cops aren’t “your heroes.” You may well consider them heroes, but their service is to the people of Manchester who have a legitimate interest in their well-being. They don’t belong to the police department. It could be that the officers themselves feel inadequately armed, or that there aren’t enough of them, or that the brass doesn’t have their best interest at heart. Which is why reporters should seek them out and not merely take the department’s word.
Look, we are all human. We all sympathize with the victims of violence. But we have to maintain a professional distance. Generally speaking, our sources don’t need our help being less responsive. And that is my two cents.