STUDENT VOICE: Covering Uvalde Reflection – Maison Smith

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Before attending this event, I was interested in knowing how journalists handle horrific and sudden events such as school shootings. I could not even comprehend how to start with reporting on a school shooting. In my opinion, the speaker handled the information that he was given about the school shooting correctly.

I thought it was extraordinary to see Charles Overby introduce the conference. I am happy to see that Overby is still rooted in Ole Miss. Speaking from a student’s point of view, I appreciate that he takes the time to show up and speak here.

The central theme of this conference was asked by panelist Tony Pederson: “How does someone cover this story?”. Tony Plohetski replied that it is important to use all of the media that a journalist is given. Using more than one media, such as solid video proof and first-person points of view, is important to make the story as reliable as possible.

Tony Plohetski played a significant role in covering the Uvaldi shooting. He believes that the reason for this is because he did not wait for his boss to tell him to go to the scene. Plohetski drove three hours to Uvaldi immediately after the news broke, and I believe that is the primary indicator of a passionate journalist.

I believe that the best source to get a story from is video. The fact that Plohetski used edited video to be sensitive towards the victims’ families helps put journalists in a good light. It shows that he understands the mental impact that the victims’ families have.

Journalists will forever receive backlash on how they report, but I believe that it is especially the case when dealing with sensitive topics such as mass shootings. Although it is important to make these issues known, it is more critical not to glorify the impact of school shootings to prevent copycats.

Plohetski made the right decision in helping to start the conversation on how police should act during an active school shooting. I understand that no matter how trained police officers are in school shootings, there is no way to mentally prepare people for brutal and tragic events such as a school shooting, but spreading light on these topics can help power the conversation on plans to act.

This panel was by far the most emotional but needed to show that news can contain topics that are extremely hard to cover. I am glad that this topic was discussed because it can be beneficial to young and inexperienced journalists in the future.