Today, for the first time, I called the mother of a victim who was shot–specifically, a 14-year-old boy who was sprayed with bullets through the window of his own home.
Fortunately, the teen did not die as a result of his injuries.
Unfortunately, this didn’t make it any easier to call his worried parent, nor to convince her to speak with me.
The thing is, my personal impulse is to give people their space without any hesitation. If they don’t want to talk, I don’t really want to make them.
Professionally, though, I know that very few people open up right away. Sometimes I know I’ll have to push a little, but I also need to make sure I don’t shove. I believe it’s counter-productive to work against my personality that way.
Her child was shot in the family home while more of her children were around. The boy had to be rushed to hospital. That’s deeply traumatic, and not a feeling I can fain to understand. Of course she was weary of a stranger on the phone.
Then again, she spoke with another reporter (likely in person) which means she did have something to say about the incident.
This is the best I could think of to do:
When I called, I told her I was happy her son is still alive (because I am!) and that I would really love to hear, in her words, what happened (because I do!).
The good thing is that, although she was initially resistant, she told me I could try calling her back later.
This is heartening, not because I wanted to nail the story (as I suspected, a senior reporter ended up taking it on anyway) but because I never want to lose the empathy that would make someone want to speak with me in the first place.
My first thought was not (and I hope will never be) “how can I squeeze some exclusive information out of this woman?”
Maybe because I have 14-year-old sister, my first thought was personal: “how would I feel if this had happened to Bebe?”
Then professional: “If this were my life, what kind of a journalist would I want to speak with?”
Here are the latest batch of stories
High-risk offender to live in Listowel
OPP issues rare public alert about the presence of a 46-year-old man who has many previous criminal convictions.
Some Yonge subway stations to close early for a week
The early closure will affect Wellesley, College, Dundas, Queen and King stations from May 29 to June 4.
Expect many Sunday road closures
Several groups will take to the streets this Sunday, closing off or restricting automobile traffic around the city.
President’s Choice garlic bread recalled
Loblaw Ltd. is recalling “Baked by You” Roasted Garlic Bread over fears that a loaf may contain a metal pin.
Man stabbed at Lawrence and Midland Aves.
Police have arrested a man after a victim was stabbed with a knife in the Lawrence Ave. E and Midland Ave. area on Sunday morning.
Man drowns in Brampton lake
A 22-year-old man is dead after drowning in a Brampton lake Saturday.