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Would you want to be an execution witness?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Eddie_Vedder, Jul 12, 2007.


Would you want to be an execution witness?

  1. Yes

    16 vote(s)
  2. No

    18 vote(s)
  1. Eddie_Vedder

    Eddie_Vedder Member

    If you had the opportunity to be a media witness at an execution, would you do it? I realize that your opinion on the death penalty would probably come into play in that decision, but that aside, would you and why or why not?

    Personally, I would. To be one of only a handful of people behind the scenes at a major news event, absolutely.
  2. ArnoldBabar

    ArnoldBabar Active Member

    It would depend whether it had something to do with my job. If it was the end of a case I had covered, yeah, I can see being there. Or if I were writing about the death penalty. But to do it just to do it? Nope.
  3. Eddie_Vedder

    Eddie_Vedder Member

    Yes, it would be for your job. You wouldn't necessarily have to have been the main guy reporting on the case, but let's say there's a number of papers, radio, TV outlets that have covered the thing as it's gone along and now when the day is coming, only two reporters will get picked out of the many.... I'd want to be one of the ones picked. I'm anxious to see what the rest of SJ-land would want.
  4. I know someone who was a witness at the Gacy execution, and another who was a McVeigh witness. One was a little too excited about being there, the other just looked at it as part of the job.

    I would do it, obviously, if it was my job, but I wouldn't want to.
  5. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    My thoughts exactly.
  6. sportschick

    sportschick Active Member

    I was in the Haute when McVeigh was killed. There's a reason I took vacation that day.

    And no, I wouldn't attend an execution. In addition to various religious, political and general squeamishness reasons, I don't think I want to have someone's, regardless of how evil he/she is, last moments permanently imprinted in my brain.
  7. In Cold Blood

    In Cold Blood Member

    No way.
    that's probably an ironic statement given my screen name, but no.

    as sportschick pointed out, those are some memories I don't want floating around in my head.
  8. KVV

    KVV Member

    My wife, also a reporter, did this for work. Said it was awful. She handled it like a pro, but had all kinds of nightmares about it for weeks after.
  9. Meat Loaf

    Meat Loaf Guest

    Shit, I'll do it for free.
  10. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Sirs, Madames,

    No. Matter of empathy. I've seen my stories killed.

    YHS, etc
  11. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    Would wholly depend on the identity of the star attraction . . .
  12. bp6316

    bp6316 Member

    When I was in college at Sam Houston State in Huntsville, Tx for a year and a half, the student paper was on the state's media witness rotation. Our turn came up twice while I was there and I volunteered to do it for one of them. I figured I was a young journalist that wanted to experience everything I could in the field (and I figured it wouldn't hurt on a resume to be that versitile!).

    I really didn't have much of an opinion about the death penalty before that (despite living in Huntsville, the legal death capital of the U.S.). I guess I was slanted more toward being in favor of it than against it, but it wasn't something I'd thought much about. If anything, I figured that witnessing would help me determine what my opinion really was.

    Anyway, as expected, I was the only "kid" in the group of media witnesses, and the group of veterans did a great job of helping me get prepared and telling me what to expect. Things were delayed a while when they had trouble getting the needles started (this was before the days of the nation going into an outcry if that happens), so that was the only thing that made me really nervous. Sitting in a warden's office for any amount of time doesn't seem fun, but it's especially bad when that time gets drug out. It also made for an awkward moment when the family of the guy being executed was escorted back through the office we were all sitting in so they could go wait in another room. The mother was crying pretty hard and praying in Spanish over and over.

    So once things got back going again, we went over to the chamber. They split us up into two groups. Half of us would go onto the side with the victim's family and the other half would go on the side with his family. I was put on the victim's family side. There were only two people there for the victim and they were completely silent the entire time. They released no statements and showed absolutely no emotion from start to finish. They pulled the curtains open and we could immediately hear his mom crying loudly in the room next to us. I stood next to a reporter from one of the old wire services and watched the kinds of notes he was taking and figured I should do the same. They allowed him to make a final statement, which was entirely in Spanish, and I was the only media person that understood any of it (which came in handy after the fact). He finished, looked over at our room and smiled and mouthed "I'm sorry." Then they started the process. The best way I could describe things from there is that the sound he made was like an inside-out cough. Happened pretty quick and then he was still. We all stood there for a couple minutes, then they pronounced him dead and closed the curtains. We all walked back to the warden's office area and the media coordinator asked if anyone understood his final statement. I translated what I could (my Spanish was limited, but more than everyone else's) and that was pretty much it.

    So, as I said earlier, I expected to come out of that with a strong opinion one way or the other about capital punishment. But in all honesty, nothing changed. I didn't really think, "Wow, that's cruel, we should stop this immediately," or "That guy got what he deserved, let's kill em all." To this day, I don't really have a strong opinion either way on it. I guess that's a good thing to think being in the media.

    Oh, and just for the record, a career in sports (until my current job anyway) hasn't really given me much opportunity to use that as a career accomplishment.

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