Thursday, January 14, 2010

Those evil vultures

So a colleague here at work informed me today that I was apparently mentioned in a recent Pitch article.

Okay, so I admit it. It's a prerequisite that in order to be a television reporter, you have to cut out your heart (which is probably black as coal anyway) and sell your soul to the devil. Learning how to do the "circling like a vulture" trick is the hardest to learn in journalism school.

Look, I have a thick skin. I don't take the words of some self-righteous reporter personally. But I told my parents about the article, joking, "hey they could have at least spelled my name right!" My parents responded in the comments section. I was a little embarrassed at first when I read it, but then I realized that what my parents wrote was beautiful and touching, and speaks passionately about the human condition.
So I wanted to share what they wrote:

Jan & Kent says:

As parents who tragically lost our son at age 19, we would like to say that while we never had a microphone thrust in our face, we always appreciated the expression of concern and condolences, no matter the source. And because our son was working off camera at a TV station when he died we were very touched when the anchor expressed on-air condolences to Jason's family and friends. We taped that and still have it. Twenty years later we still weep when we watch that.

The media can help to make connections among people and tell the stories of those who are lost. Some do it better than others. Tess Koppelman does an outstanding job in our opinion - probably because she remembers the difficulty of losing her brother, Jason, 20 years ago on September 13, 1989. We know that she is not just doing her job, but that she is doing it with compassion and caring. We know that, because we know her well. She is our daughter and best friend.

Reporters see so much tragedy in their work, and we have seen our daughter weep privately over some of those stories and rage over others. Reporters are people with feelings and families and histories. They want to tell the stories to humanize the tragedies. We want to hear the stories to become more human. We all become connected when we do so. As Garrison Keillor has said, "grief makes relatives of us all."


Theresa Petry said...

Tess, I feel for you.I truly believe you are one of those reporters who does care and does her job with compassion. It is very easy for people to lump us all in the "vulture" category...and sadly some indeed do deserve that title. But until they have walked in our shoes they have no idea just how hard it can be. The absolute worst part of our job is reaching out to someone in a tragic situation. Contrary to the beliefs of some we do not thrive on tragedy. They don't see us privately shed a tear...or know that sometimes a story can haunt us forever. We are expected to be professional and not choke up on air...and we do it --not because we are heartless or don't care but because if we let one tear drop we might not get through the story. I've always said that the day I don't have compassion is the day I will retire from reporting! Keep up the great work! Don't let a critic or two get to you. You know who you are and the integrity you have...continue it --despite them =)

Anonymous said...

I also believe that you are a reporter who cares deeply. I have known you since high school and you have a great heart. I have met reporter who seem to have no soul or feelings whatsoever - especially back in 2001 during the murder and trials we had to go through. And some of the reporters were horrible to all the people involved. I actually didn't meet one I didn't want to punch in the face. They were selfish at the core. I know you. And I know you are totally not like that. From the first time I met you - We hit it off. Your a very beautiful person.

Anonymous said...


When you work in the media, you see so much pain. You can't burst in to tears everytime you have to tell a tragic story nor can you simply not allow stories in to your heart at all. The reality is we must do our jobs with compassion and honesty. When I see your reports I always feel like I get that from you.


Anonymous said...

your parents r amazing writers...I see where you get your gift of story telling.