[Blog] Reporter’s Notebook: The struggle of journalistic detachment

Those of us tasked with covering death and tragedy are constantly flipping switches on our emotional reactors. It’s hard. And it’s hard to talk openly and honestly about how we do that. I thank Dallas Morning News reporter Naomi Martin for doing so here, in a piece titled: “I lost any sense of journalistic detachment when Patti Stevens mentioned me in her suicide note.”

Martin had previously written about the murder of Stevens’ husband. When Stevens killed herself a few days later, Martin discovered a note addressed to her. Their connection had been brief, but sincere.

Perhaps that’s because Martin took an extra step that journalists sometime disregard: After writing the obituary for Stevens’ husband, she called Stevens, and shared reader comments from the online story over the phone. Martin may have published the piece with “clinical detachment,” as she calls it. But she remembered her humanity, too.

Hat tip to Columbia Journalism Review