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Your View: Viewers Question Coverage on E. Coli Death

Posted: Sep 28, 2012 2:44 PM by Alexandra Jones and Elise Oggioni
Updated: Sep 28, 2012 7:09 PM

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NEW FRANKLIN - On September 19th, KOMU 8 reporter Dan Kennedy went to New Franklin to try and get more information about the young boy who passed away from E.coli. When he arrived in New Franklin, he said he was met by a woman who had some pretty harsh words about his presence in town.

KOMU 8's coverage of the toddler's death sparked some controversy on our Facebook as well, with one of the original comments posted about the story receiving more than 1,000 'likes'.

"I don't understand why you can't leave a family to grieve without your interference. Please, let it go. This is a horrific situation and we don't need the media exaggerating that. If you want facts, go to the health department," said a commenter on Facebook.

Another Facebook comment advised KOMU 8 to "help change the culture of journalism to one that shows respect, responsibility and empathy" by adding those things to our core values.

Viewer John Miller told KOMU 8 News he thinks we should have gotten our information or spoken with county officials before even thinking of trying to contact the family involved.

"If you can't get information from the health department, be a little more patient. I realize you guys have time frames you have to get to, but you could always put a story off a day or two," Miller said.

However, because a case of E.coli is a major health concern, some KOMU 8 staff members said a day or two might have been too long to wait. The station decided it was necessary to determine where the boy contracted the e. coli so the public would know how he got it.

"He went out trying to find answers from the places that you'd normally go, the health department, the medical examiner's office, the sheriff's department, anyone that might be involved in an official manner. When he couldn't do that, he went to the family. He went to the community," KOMU 8 News Managing Editor Elizabeth Frogge said.

In response to the comments posted about establishing a different set of core values at KOMU, Frogge said Kennedy demonstrated those same values throughout his reporting that night.

"He went up and talked to her and when she made it clear that the family didn't want to talk, he backed off. I believe he even gave her a hug and so I think that in a way it shows that we're really not monsters. We're not out to prey on these innocent people. We're just trying to get some more information," Frogge said.

So what do you think? Should we have waited a few more days before contacting the family? Or was it important health information the public needed to know? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.

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