Meg Casey
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Meg Casey's handicapped issues column

Harassment by the press after a tragedy

Meg Casey
August 31, 1983

Question: Dear Meg,

I am seeking your advice about something which has gotten emotions running to the point that I am beside myself with grief. Recently my family suffered a personal tragedy. I will refrain from going into specific details except to say that we were absolutely crushed and were unable to cope with what we considered to be pushy and insensitive insensitive behavior of press people who hounded us day and night by phone and unannounced visits on our doorstep. They have even gone after our nearest neighbors to ask probing questions in case they have any insight to our private feelings. From reading about all of your expenses with reporters I was hoping that you might be able to tell us how to put a handle on this difficult situation.

Answer Dear …

I am really very sorry for the grief that you and your family seems to have been going through. Although the actual reasons that you are getting this unwanted attention might differ from the ones that contributed to my own publicity. The feelings of hurt and frustration generated by the annoying experience of being personally invaded are easy to relate to.

This is a perfect illustration that physical differences in people don't necessarily alter the similarities between human emotions and reactions to events which occur in a lifetime.

I have been very fortunate to have had "causes" that I could deflect some of the my personal publicity off onto in order to ease some of that sense of being sucked apart by "leeches." You obviously haven't had a buffer to use like that but I tell you that I don't know how I would have would withstood it all without one.

It's been three years since my circus 1st began performing. Today, I can't believe how time has flown but there are definitely days when all I want to do is cry and wonder if the pressure of "Newsiness" will ever wear off. During all of this time I met numbers of good and bad people. Some of both groups have been reporters, photographers or cameramen and some of those press people have become good friends of mine. This last few souls have managed to redeem their journalistic profession in my eyes so that I will tell you that they are not all "ignorant bores," out to get anything that will sell a newspaper on this year. Occasionally decent qualities come shining though.

Instances like the National Inquirer reporter showing upon my desk just as I was about to lay back in the sun simply have to be dealt with quickly. In spite of repeated refusals over the phone or by mail some people won't take no for an answer. So kick them out. Hang up and don't answer any mail you don't want. You can't be guaranteed that it will always work the first time but most times it will. The ragtag papers are the worst because sensational garbage is their mainstay. That is why I so vehemently resented the sensation of being watched in a private moment that I needed and had really been looking forward to. Instead I had to slip off to a long distance friend’s house for the weekend because the sanctuary of my own lovely home have been invaded for that time.

Yes ma'am I understand your situation. My only advice can be to stand your ground and speak to whom you want when you want to. If you are unsure make them tell you why they want to do the story. This way you'll be able to see the angle they are leaning toward. If you're still unsure, say no. This way you'll never regret your decision.

Milford Polished-Marble
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blog posts and art by Meg Casey
originally published 1982 to 1985 in the Milford Citizen newspaper
Memorable Milford regrets that a political dispute has made it necessary to complete this project without the cooperation of a claimant to the original columns
The original author disdained those only seeking to profit from tragedies.
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