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Reporters should be able to be human, too

Soapbox

The Portland Tribune's Pete Schulberg accuses KATU (2) reporter Anna Song of acting as an unnecessary 'emotional conduit' in her coverage of the Miranda Gaddis-Ashley Pond cases. The Los Angeles Times' Howard Rosenberg indicts Song for her eulogy at the girls' public memorial.

Since when did good journalism mean you had to check your heart at the door?

Society embraces the concept of public good, acts that provoke greater good for the community at large. Song's coverage and eulogy were such acts.

Song is a tenacious reporter for Portland's KATU. She's eager to tackle reluctant subjects with hard questions. But what sets her apart is her willingness to demonstrate her own humanity. Her openness is disarming; it invites the viewer in, as if alone with her for a little chat.

In today's world, where neighbors are often strangers, Song didn't grab us by our gut with graphic images or numb our jaded minds with facts, though she gave us both. Instead, she nudged our heartstrings. And in the process, she brought the plight of missing children home in a way that shook us all.

When Song removes her reporter's hat, she deserves the liberty to move and breathe as a citizen: to eat, to sleep and, yes, to grieve. That the grieving in this case was public is no surprise; two girls' private lives were public fodder for months. But at the memorial, she was allowed to feel right along with the rest of us. And despite the pontifications of her peers, Song's coverage was good. Not because she was an emotional conduit for repressed people and not because she challenged a tradition of journalism, but because she induced people to act.

Thousands left their homes and jobs to place flowers, teddy bears or notes on the fence that became a memorial wall. They gathered their children close and explained the unspeakable. They hugged neighbors and wept with strangers.

Anna Song demonstrated that people care, and that validation Ñ that the world is full of good and decent people Ñ was a profound act of public good.

Anymore, it seems, there are only two classes of people who don't express emotion. One is the sociopath. The other is the journalist.

If you saw the television interviews that Song did with Ward Weaver, you know one thing: We are grateful for the human face she wears right under her journalist's hat.

Ward Weaver showed us the horror of what no feelings can do.

Deb Stone of Beaver Creek is a fledgling screenwriter and mother of eight. She serves as the public relations officer for Willamette Writers.