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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Kansas City News Media and Coverage of Don Harman's Death

Viewing the comments here and on other local Internet sites- I've noticed a number of commenters wondering A) why it took so long to report Channel 4 weatherman Don Harman's death and/or B) by what means of suicide did Don Harman end his life.

I'll first address A)- the time issue.

Police report that Harman's death came around 5 p.m. Tuesday- but it was only on Wednesday's noon WDAF newscast that it was formally announced.

That was due- if people will read the reports- because Mr. Harman's father who was travelling- could not be immediately notified of his son's death.

Bear in mind- most news media organizations do not report confirmed suicides unless there are extenuating circumstances (a person threatening to jump off a bridge and the resulting traffic snarls for instance) or- as in this case- a celebrity or public figure is involved.

I have sent photographers on more than a few shootings that have turned out to be suicides- but unless someone else is harmed- those don't get reported.

On homicide scenes-photographers get their pictures in and around where the killing occurred as a matter of news sense.

In the vast majority of these cases- no news photog is going to stick their microphones in the faces of family or friends unless those people WANT to talk on-camera.

Then comes Point B- what mode of suicide did Don Harman choose.

To the news media or most other sensible people- this point is really irrevelent.

Whether Mr. Harman killed himself by hanging- with a gun or suffocation- what does it matter?  A well-liked TV personality is dead by his own hand and THERE lies the tragedy.

Bear in mind- I hear a LOT of suicide attempts during my news monitoring shifts: by overdose- shooting- hanging- carbon monoxide- you name it.

I've also handled a surprising number of suicidal people on Internet chat rooms.

It wrenches my heart enough to hear what I do about these incidents- and it really serves no one to report specifics- name names or- if no one else is harmed- any part of the incident at all.

We need to really focus on the tragedy and finality of suicide as in was there anything whatsoever we can or could have done to help prevent same.


The Observer said...

An excellent post.

No one needs to know the exact method of death,and hopefully no police officer, firefighter, or EMS person (or any of their family/SO) will be tempted to blab it out. This is truly none of our business.

As to the impressive news embargo, I continue to be impressed. The only crack was a small bit in The Pitch. Otherwise, it was all social media, FB and Twitter mainly.

I am starting to hear the right kind of stuff about working to help those who struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts. As one who has worked in health care, the irony of malingerers and system workers who take up a pretty large amount of our time stands in stark relief to people like Don Harman who felt too much shame in coming forward for help. Somehow, we must remove this shame from mental/brain illness.

Thanks again for your thoughtful post.

The Observer

Anonymous said...

Well TO you make sense but sadly there are those who have to know every gory detail.

Out on the highways we called them rubberneckers.

If some had seen the horror and all the real blood along with intense pain I saw over the years in the fire service they would have a very different out look on life.

Groucho K. Marx said...

Hope all is well Ms. The Observer! ;)

As far as my reporting- by the time I posted WDAF themselves had as much admitted on-air and in print that Mr. Harman was dead but to wait telling anybody (?).

I first saw it on MO RAGE like I had said later Tues. night- but rumor wasn't enough for me then.

When nothing came across my usual news outlets but was rampant in public comments by 9 a.m. the next morning- I figured I'd chip in with what I heard too.

And yes indeed SuperDave- if people really want gory details- become a cop- medic or firefighter.

Or a coroner, a news photographer- an ambulance chaser- etc..


Anonymous said...

Let me try to explain this to all you judgemental asses. The reason why I'D like to know how he killed himself is because, the circumstances being disturbing enough already, I'm having a stream of constant imagery playing in my head of the most gory disgusting methods out there and if I knew then maybe it would stop. Perhaps he went quietly. There are relatively painless ways to go. So no it isn't because I'm a rubbernecker you cracker it's because I'm a caring person who is haunted by this uglyness and would like more details -- if that's okay with y'all.

The Observer said...

Sorry your head seems to be such an unpleasant and angry place to be. It's not being judgmental to state the fact that you simply have no right to know. Calling people names will not change that fact.

Anonymous said...

Hey Observer, observe this-- maybe we the public don't have the right to know what his method of suicide was....but guess what ? We still wanna know so get off of your soapbox! There are still and always will be those of us that still want to know....

Anonymous said...

I would like to know as well. Like Anonymous said I'm just curious. Why is it so damaging to know how he died or who found him. I'm not asking how much blood was on the floor or if they are going to need to put in new carpet. I am not an angry person, by any means, and do not have misguided thoughts. I just don't think like you, I'm different and to each is own to their own opinion(freedom of speech). You do not see me passing judgment on you for not wanting to know, But apparently you (observer) are in your ivory tower looking down on all us simpletons. For example what if there was a guy who was in a depressed state and was thinking of suicide and heard that Don's kid is the one who found him and scarred her/him for life. Do you think that would have an affect on if that person would kill himself? You think they may have the thought, "maybe I shouldn't do this at home on the living room floor before the kid shows up from school?" Who Are You To Judge observer? Let me pass judgment on you... I'm sure you are a liberal, left wing, "I'm too stupid to think for myself so I need someone to do it for me" kind of people. More Government! Am I getting warm?

Groucho K. Marx said...

Two things here folks...

No 1: The Observer isn't JUDGING- just observing and

No. 2- How exactly Don Harman died or any other gory details will NOT alter what has happened and- even if I did know these things- I would not post them

It was a SUICIDE- a loved one died- and- to quote FG- "That's all I'm going to say about that."

Everybody have a glorious day!

Anonymous said...

Judgemental wasn't that a movie?

Oh I remember thinking of Judge Dredd.

Funny what people will really come out of the wood work to comment on.

Everyday matters of concern I guess flys right over their the top of their heads. Sheeple that way please------>

Anonymous said...

Yeah! I guess if you aren't Sparkey the Fire Dog you don't have a need to know or make your own decisions what you want to know.

Anonymous said...

I too would like to know! Not because I am a sick, twisted person! But, rather, in my mind, Don was brought into my home, I have met him several times, and considered him a 'friend'. I am in major shock to believe he would want to take his life and leave behind a family! Don was a weather man, he was there to report weather! BUT, he also let us get to know him, he didn't have to, he wanted to! He wanted us to laugh, and be educated. One thing he left out though, his struggles when he left that camera, that fundraiser, that ball game, or school! SOOO, my question, was it a gut decision at the last minute, or was it a planned out thing. How it happened answers a lot of questions in the way he thought, and how severely depressed he was! I also find it ironic, the ones saying, 'you don't need to know specifics...facts are facts' are the ones who know the specifics!

Anonymous said...

Well if Don was a friend as you say then I am sure the family be more than happy to let you in on what ever the secert is the rest of us don't know.

Give it a rest!

I like how you hide who you might be, wish you would say your name so if I ever notice your death notice I could hound the blogging site demanding info all about your death so your family could maybe see it day in and day out.

If he was as you said once again what you considered a friend then you would know to have more respect with your demands of information from the family.

Anonymous said...

Ummmmm Super that your real name?

Anonymous said...

As a matter of fact it is how I am known by all that know me and have been called that for over 40 years.

Darren McAnally said...
This comment has been removed by the author.