Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Burrying the dead

Joseph Longobardo was laid to rest Monday at the Saratoga National Cemetery, and boy did the media eat it up. Most outlets had at least two reporters covering the memorial services, with some assigning as many as three to the story. Given the outpouring of mourners, there's little doubt that the young man was well liked by both his family and his peers.

There comes a point, however, where the story about the mourning of a family and a brotherhood becomes redundant and perhaps even burdensome on those trying to grieve in quiet solitude. And this was apparently the case even before the funeral, according to an article appearing last week in the New York Times, which reported the trooper's family had asked his Middle Grove neighbors not talk to the media for privacy's sake.

Still, a pen-wielding camera-toting gaggle of press folk descended upon the funeral services with an almost unequaled determination to outdo one another's heart-string tugging, flag-waving, men-in-uniform hugging stories. In the end, they all sounded homogeneous and said essentially the same thing: Trooper Longobardo was a dedicated cop who will be missed dearly by his fellow troopers; his funeral was attended by police from around the country.

The Saratogian took no less than three reporters and 1,600 words to make this point, along with a hackneyed allusion to 9-11 that was injected into a lead about jet contrails. Then again, they were probably constrained by a limited budget, as the free-spending grieve-happy Times Union dedicated five reporters to pen five articles and more than 2,400 words about the solemn event.

There's the broadcast news stations, all of which covered both days of the trooper's wake at Saratoga High, then devoted exclusives to the funeral Monday. Capital News 9 has promised a “Funeral Replay” on TW3 to air Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Talk about overkill.

True, it's a nice gesture to pay respects to someone who dedicated their lives and ultimately died to served the public. But in the end, there is no amount of words or coverage that will bring Longobardo back and there's a time to let the dead rest.

There also comes a point when some of these news agencies should consider how cumbersome it must be for a grieving family to wake up every morning and see pictures of their deceased kin plastered all over the place.

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