Most of you know what I do for a living.
My boss often says: You don’t want Victoria writing about you. It means you – or your loved ones – are having a really bad day.
I cover crime, courts and breaking news for Gannett and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
Monday was rough – two fatal crashes (on the same road, no less), a news conference on the state providing funding for bulletproof vests for police officers, and what appeared to be a drowning in the river.
Tuesday was even nuttier with more on the river search and the sentencing of a 22-year-old man who brutally beat his girlfriend to death with objects around her college dorm room, including a coffee mug and a clothing iron. He wept throughout the court appearance and ultimately was sentenced to the max – 25 years to life in prison.
You don’t want to hear the gritty details. Trust me.
While I love what I do, some days can be damn hard.
Working the scene a few years back. Photo by Carlos Ortiz
Sometimes the news hits home. Sometimes it becomes personal. Sometimes you hug the source bawling on your shoulder. Sometimes you realize you are a person first and a reporter second.
I often see my work posted on websites and shared via social media. That I love. But what’s grown increasingly disheartening is how people commenting on the work can be downright nasty.
On a piece about the arrest of a single working mom who left her 4-year-old child in the car while she was working, I see people ridiculing her, calling her names and questioning her ability to care for herself, let alone her son.
Regarding an article about a fatal crash involving a wrong-way driver, people badmouth the motorist, the intersection then turn on one another.
And Tuesday’s sentencing? Let’s just say comments like “rot in jail,” “where’s the firing squad” and suggestions for someone to stab him with a sharpened toothbrush in prison are among the kinder ones.
While I love so much about social media, such as its ability to connect people of common interest, it seems to have also made it increasingly acceptable – not to mention easy – to publicize and amplify any gripe with a business. Many people post a vicious complaint, even berate a company online, to ensure a response rather than take the time to speak with an employee, go to a store or make a phone call.
I’m wondering – where’s our compassion? When did it become acceptable to ridicule others in a public forum? When did it become acceptable to throw a public tantrum to get our way? Is this degrading discourse a bigger sign of what’s to come? Is this the fault of online communities and social media?
I certainly hope not. Whenever I want to respond to nasty comments, to reply and ultimately feed into the negativity, I type my response and promptly delete it.
What do you think of people’s insta-reactions on news articles, some blogs and other newsworthy items online? Do you filter yourself when posting?
Side note: I have a work-related Facebook page. If you wish to see more of what I cover or join the conversation, I’m “Victoria Freile” on Facebook.