Ascending up from the broadcast pit of hell, there are reality shows, daytime talk shows, prime time news shows, the news. You expect crass exploitation down at the bottom, but I still have it in my mind that actual news shows should be different. Often, however, the morning talk shows are not. Back in October, a morning didn’t go by without some sniper victim’s relative blubbering all over the screen, trying to answer questions like, “How does it feel to have the universe randomly snuff out the life of your beloved sister?”
Katie Couris of the Today show reduced a young boy to an incoherent bawling mess the other day – she should be so proud:
- The danger of the morning news show competition for interviews was evident last week in the tears streaming down a 9-year-old boy’s face.
Two days after four boys drowned in Lawrence, Mass., after plunging through thin ice on the Merrimack River, the “Today” show’s Katie Couric interviewed Jaycob Morales, 10, and Francis Spraus, 9, the two boys fished out of the river alive on Dec. 14.
After the talkative Morales was through, Couric addressed a question to Spraus, who had tried unsuccessfully to hang on to a 7-year-old friend who died before his eyes.
When the camera turned to him, Spraus was sobbing. He could barely talk. Couric asked another question.
“It’s OK,” she said. “You don’t have to. That’s OK. But can you describe at least what it is, what you felt like in the water, Francis?”
“It’s just so hard for me,” he replied. “It was cold, too. I thank God that God gave me another life.”
The gut-wrenching interview was soon over. It was a competitive coup for NBC’s “Today” on a story its rivals also reported.
But at what cost?
Some people like to talk their way through a traumatic episode, said Dr. David Fassler, a child psychiatrist affiliated with the University of Vermont. But not always, he said.
“It can actually exacerbate the impact of a trauma to push kids to tell their story or to encourage extensive contact with the media,” Fassler said. “It can definitely make it worse. Kids need to work through these experiences in their own way and at their own pace.”