The media is not the message


Perhaps we, the media, should reconsider what our job is. Perhaps you, the audience, should think about it, too. At the moment, we’re not on the same page.

A young lady, Rissa Amen-Reif, was killed in Mankato over the weekend, when she and a friend were struck by a car. Amen-Reif was lying in the middle of the road at the time. In the wake of the death of Amanda Jax after a night of binge drinking in Mankato, it was not a big leap to the conclusion, even though it might well be wrong.

Let’s be honest. In a given week, there are a dozen traffic deaths to focus on. Why do you think this one has drawn so much interest? The media may well have a suspicion that this was another drinking death, but can’t do that story until toxicology reports come in. From all appearances, that’s what Rissa’s friends are afraid of because on a Facebook memorial page today, it says:

Out of repesct (sic) for Rissa and her family, we as her friends have made a descision to NOT comment to the media. Please repect our wishes and do not contact us.

If they were willing to talk to the media, here’s what they might say, because it’s what they did say on Facebook:

* So many good memories. Choir, LaCrosse, crazy trips with you and **** down frat row. You always had a beautiful smile on your face. You were such an encouragement for me.

* There was just something about you that made all of us just love you. Maybe it was your contagious laugh, your love for the community or your promising friendship to us all.

* I will never forget the 2-hour phone calls, the conversations over coffee at Dunn’s, you smacking me in the arm after you realized I fell asleep at the movie last summer.

We also learned that she was a contributor to Campus Kitchens, an organization on schools around the country that cook and deliver meals to those who need them.

We don’t yet know what led to Rissa Amen-Reif’s death, but it’s clear her friends are worried about the first question that — let’s face it — we’ll ask. And they’re right. We’ll ask it. We have to. But to what effect? No matter what she did in her life, Amanda Jax will mostly be known as the binge drinker in Mankato.

How to cover a young woman’s death, and have it not become her life?

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