How to cover a tragedy: San Antonio paper offers sensitive, insightful reporting on church bus crash

How to cover a tragedy: San Antonio paper offers sensitive, insightful reporting on church bus crash

By Bobby Ross Jr. | GetReligion

Years ago, I helped cover the funerals in a small West Texas town after eight senior citizens were killed in a church bus crash.

I couldn’t help but recall that heart-wrenching tragedy as news broke Wednesday of another church bus crash — this one with an even higher death toll.

As a reporter, I always hate handling first-day stories on tragedies such as this. Pressing crash investigators for the basic details of what happened is no problem. But seeking comments from grieving loved ones is never easy. Never.

With my personal experience in my mind, I am impressed with the San Antonio Express-News’ main front-page story today.

The piece offers sensitive and insightful reporting on the tragedy, which occurred in the San Antonio paper’s coverage area.

The lede nicely sets the scene:

Read the full column.

• • •

More of my GetReligion columns (March 2017):

Sin and the stock market: On biblically responsible investing, who would Jesus quote first? Published March 1.

Dirty words? Conservatives, liberals and accurate descriptions when reporting on religious freedom. Published March 3.

Scare quotes and factual journalism in Florida: This here is what they call a ‘religious liberties’ bill. Published March 7.

With The New Yorker, you can have your cake and gain insight into flowers and same-sex weddings, too. Published March 10.

Masturbation bill: This isn’t fake news, it’s parody news — and it doesn’t help newspapers’ credibility. Published March 13.

Another chapter in the tragic story of sin and scandal at Baylor, the world’s largest Baptist university. Published March 16.

The real Muslims of Hawaii: WSJ digs below the surface after Trump’s travel ban blocked. Published March 20.

Do the media have a ‘conscience?’ Not when it comes to foster care and religious liberty in Texas. Published March 22.

Trump returning to Liberty U: Hey CNN, is it indisputable that ‘Second Corinthians’ is correct? Published March 23.

‘Released Time’ religious education: High school’s Muslim prayer room raises constitutional questions. Published March 27.

Shhhhh! Don’t mention Christian faith because ESPN wants to pretend it doesn’t matter. Published March 29.

The rest of my March 2017 columns

Calling attention to ‘important AP investigation on physical and sexual abuse’ at N.C. church. Published March 2.

In Dallas Morning News crime narrative, forgiveness feels more philosophical than theological. Published March 6.

Associated Press story on Wyoming judge is fair enough, but about that ‘anti-gay’ headline … Published March 9.

A drive-thru funeral window? Opposition to Bible Belt mortuary’s service hints at a holy ghost. Published March 14.

Hey media: In delving into child prostitution scandal involving senator, don’t forget the church. Published March 17.

A holy ghost? Why an Idaho couple with conjoined twins decided against aborting their babies. Published March 21.

‘God and cannabis’: Newspaper offers serious take on church that believes in smoking marijuana. Published March 28.