Friday, May 11, 2007

Dear PittGirl...

Here's my e-mail to PittGirl of The Burgh Blog fame,
in answer to her post this morning.

Dear PittGirl,

I appreciate your concern for the crime victim who I spoke with Thursday, but I promise you I didn't violate any understanding she and I had about doing that story. I care very much about how I treat the people I interview, and I assure you I'm not thoughtless--or worse--, as your post would suggest.

Some background: when I first spoke with her, it was without my photographer, who waited at the news truck. She discussed the entire incident with me in detail. While she was willing to let us record her voice, she did not want her face to appear on camera. I also asked specifically if she objected to our taking video of her car or or the sidewalk outside her home. She did not. To be clear, she did not ask me to withhold the name of her street, or to avoid showing it on camera. In fact, she even mentioned other details about the location during the taping which I didn't include in the story.

Take a look at the Pittsburgh Police news release below. You'll see that the police released further details about the block number in which she lives-- and that investigators also make the cross streets public. Why? Because they are seeking the public's cooperation to solve the crime. The street, block, and a cross street also appear in this PG article. (The police news release mistakenly says her baby is a girl; he's a boy.)

What about the words you quote from my report? "The woman says she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and in this case, the wrong place happened to be right in front of her home." That was a direct quote from what she chose to say while we videotaped the interview. Check out the audio clip at this link. Her words in this clip were broadcast in a later newscast.

People can choose not to be seen on camera for a variety of reasons, not all of them having to do with "witness protection". This was an composed, collected, 30-year-old woman who agreed to do the interview on terms which she chose and which I fully respected. Neither she nor the police were keeping the location secret. It was no mystery to the shooter. The car riddled with bullet holes was sitting there in plain view.

When the interview was over, I thanked the woman and complemented her for her bravery, both in how she handled the incident at the time and for discussing the details with me. I always treat crime and accident victims with the utmost respect. I often tell them "I'm asking you to talk with me, but you don't have to". It's true. They are not elected officials or public employees. They don't owe us one word. I've been doing this for 30 years, and I would never have violated that respect by betraying the conditions we agreed to in our interview.

(Click image to enlarge.)

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