Even though journalism is undergoing some pretty major changes the fact is that we still rely on both broadcast and print journalists to bring us important stories. While we might be use to hearing about journalists being killed or otherwise endangered while doing their job we usually associate those types of stories with war zones or other hot spots in the world.
What we don’t expect to hear is how a veteran Washington DC broadcast journalist for WUSA-TV has to basically go into hiding and pull her children from their school for their own safety.
Yet this is exactly what Andrea McCarren had to do recently after a story she did about underage drinking aired on the station. Apparently the backlash was so strong and threatening that her children were verbally, and electronically, assaulted at their school.
In addition it was agreed by both McCarren and her boss, WUSA news director, Fred D’ambrosi that she would stay off the air for a week and let fellow reporter Derek McGinty do voice overs for her work until things calmed down.
This kind of action is uncalled for and has caused McCarren to shift the focus of her work away from anything to do with teens. As Shani Hilton wrote in the Washington City Paper, which by the way initially made fun of McCarren’s report, this is setting a dangerous precedent on several levels.
I fully respect McCarren’s decision to put her kids first and step back and don’t really see a better solution for dealing with this kind of cruelty. But it’s troubling that a woman’s work is being appropriated by a male colleague in order to protect her, especially given the dearth of female investigative reporters out there. That McCarren is planning to change the scope of reporting she does— according to the Post, she’ll shift her focus away from teens and toward their parents—is a disappointing result, too.
Again, it’s hard to come up with a better resolution to the issue McCarren is facing other than for her to lay low. But on the larger scale, it’s a shame to see a professional silenced by the fact that not just she, but her children, have been subject to bullying.
Personally I think that every ‘kid’ involved in this harassment should be held accountable for their action but given our mamby-pamby attitude towards kids I doubt anything more will come of it.