Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rowan Ford is Dead, Charges are Filed

Rowan Ford, dead at 9 years old
Please keep Rowan Ford's family in your thoughts and prayers.
As many people in the Ozarks already know, she was a 9-year-old girl who was raped and murdered by her stepfather and his friend last Saturday.

This is the most horrible crime against a child I can imagine.
It terrifies me to think that there are people out there who could carry out such a brutal act.

Even though it's nothing compared to those who knew and loved Rowan,
I have to say that it's pretty disturbing to cover...
I did not have to go out to any of the crime scenes, but it is pretty difficult and disturbing to read the things that allegedly happened to her...
It has been weighing heavily on my mind.

At the same time, it's exhausting.
We've all been working endless hours trying to get the latest information on the case, and work through our station's challenges. Believe it or not, KSPR was the first to go online with the arrest Friday night and we cut in on air earlier than anyone else. We were also the first to put the charges online... I know this because I did it from home Saturday morning, and I looked... (Thanks to Randy at The Turner Report for appearing to notice...I couldn't upload the PC statement, so I typed it out.)
However, being a new station has its challenges of growing an audience, and I understand that people have their own viewing habits.
Plus, I can truly say that there was some outstanding coverage by several media outlets.
Anyway, that's not the point.

I'm just saying this because it's horrible to cover, and at the same time we have a job to do that requires us to de-sensitize ourselves and work to be as fast and indepth as possible.
My personal thought is that news organizations should be required to bring in counselors for their staff when things like this happen. Law enforcement agencies do it for their officers because they see so much. Journalists are in many ways in the thick of it, too.

Anway, please do not forget Rowan.
She trusted someone, and he violated it in the worst way.
Her story cannot be something that's covered one week and forgotten the next.

And remember these men:

Christopher Collings (DOB: 02-04-1975)

David Spears (DOB: 11-04-1982)

Remember that they admitted to the crimes...

If they are telling the truth, remember these men in hopes that Rowan and her family will get justice. Right now they face first degree murder charges, forcible rape, and first degree statutory rape charges.

Authorities are also looking for other people of interest--basically David's friends.

Rowan's funeral will be on Wednesday in Neosho.


Brad said...

I'm right there with you...this has been on my mind all week. Sick bastards. The thing that gets me the re-watching the interview of Spears, saying how much he loved the child and couldn't harm her. I almost punched my monitor...even before he was arrested. He's a horrible actor, and a horrible person.

Anonymous said...

Surely you are kidding about the TV station bringing in counseling. Pathetic.

Christine Daues said...

I've been laying awake each night thinking about it too, it's so disturbing.
Michelle you are right on about being so close to a story working in a newsroom ... too close sometimes. I've found myself hoping horrible things happen to David Spears.
As for "Anonymous" - someone who's obviously never worked in a newsroom and doesn't have the guts to put their name up. They would rather be a coward and throw out misguided comments.
Please anonymous, spare us your ignorance.

Michelle said...

To anon 6:03 I think it's pathetic that you would think journalists cannot be affected by horrible injustices that go on in the world.

Journalists have to see and hear a lot before they filter it to the general public. Many times they are the first to arrive at a gruesome scene. Often, they read graphic material that cannot be shared. And frequently, they get criticized for doing what they believe is in the best interest of the public.

Thanks for sharing your opinion, but my opinion is that you chose a poor choice of words.

Gregory Holman said...

Completely agree with Michelle on the counseling front. Journalists covering the crime beat for a daily news operation sometimes seem to just go numb when faced with a case like this... especially if the story continues for more than a few days (i.e., during the trial phase). At least that's what I've seen with friends in daily news. These are tough people, but even they have limits. Bravo to all following this story. Shedding light on crime in the community—and on the machinery of justice—is a pretty big pre-req for our democratic system.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I wasted all my tears on the poor little girl and her family. Thank you for pointing us towards the true victims of this tragedy: the Springfield reporters covering a crime in the next market over.

Amos Bridges said...

My ears are burning (thanks Greg -- was I that moody?) so I'll weigh in.

I'm with you completely, Michelle. I haven't been directly involved in the Stella case, but these stories are ugly, ugly, and evil. As a journalist, there's not much you can do but force down the bile, channel as much of that evil as you can into your story, and grab a six-pack on the drive home.

I stopped eating breakfast while covering the Joey Haslett murder trial in March - it was easier than trying to hold onto my cookies looking at autopsy photos of a baby. I had to take a break from covering anything child abuse-related for a couple months after that (and, coincidentally, get a new girlfriend ...). Thankfully, my editors were accommodating. But six months later, I have a fat stack of DSS records on my desk once again ...

Point being, it's a good thing to feel that disgust and despair. Soak it up, squeeze it out into your newscast or article -- the community needs to feel the same thing. They need to see it all, because maybe if they do, someone out there won't beat their kid, will make a hotline call, say a prayer, or just hug someone extra tight.

You go home and deal with it as best you can. Grab a beer with some co-workers after work (I can vouch for Greg as a good drinking partner). Hope your significant other has the patience of a saint. When it's over, take a deep breath, do something you love and try to find something nicer to report on til the next time.

I'd wager the odds of the tv stations bringing in a counselor are about as good as they would be here at the N-L. Maybe we should set up a crisis drinking club (CDC) for local media types?

PS - had to share - my confirmation code (spaces added) was "VDJ S PP"

Amos Bridges said...

Anon 11:28 a.m.:
Did you read her post? I seem to remember several lines to the effect of "Please don't forget Rowan." Commenting on the personal effect of the story doesn't take away from the greater effect. Asshat.

Amy Maxwell said...

Thank you Michelle,

You're right, journalists can be secondary victims in times of trauma and crisis.

Here's an article I found on the topic:
Journalists and Trauma: Secondary Victims.

I found several other articles via google.

Hmm... military, police, hospitals, firefighters... they all get chaplains. Maybe journalists need one too.

Jason said...

I remember when I was in college and I had a journalism professor make us watch two hours worth of videos of murder scenes and violence because he wanted us to be desensitized to it. Otherwise, he said, we couldn't be "good reporters."

My heart is breaking for this family and has been since my fiancee and I realized a few days before they found her body that the step-father had to be involved with it.

And Michelle, the anonymous comments you're getting here would justify your not allowing anonymous comments any longer on your blog. If someone doesn't have the guts to sign their name to those kinds of cowardly views then you shouldn't be subjected to seeing them.

Aaron McGrath said...

People are people, no matter their field. It definitely should be an option for journalists to have counseling available after having to witness such horrible, graphic evidence.

Unfortunately, the case seems to have affected so many people. I just moved to St. Louis and still keep up with Springfield news, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about this case. People like my 80-year-old grandma, too, have spent a lot of time thinking about Rowan and the trauma she's gone through; she even said she laid awake wondering how those men could commit such a heart-breaking crime against this innocent child.

Sherrie said...

Michelle, I lurk all the time, but I had to chime in to say: I completely agree. There are times when a journalism staff really should have a counselor come in to help them cope.

Back an eon ago, I was one of the reporters covering the Flight 800 crash off Long Island. It still bothers me more than a decade later.

I covered so many funerals, so many stories, and they haunt me.

There were quite a few of us in that newsroom who were numb for a long, long time. We were expected to do our daily jobs, plus help cover a major story that brought us to our knees sometimes.

I absolutely hate getting on planes now.

There isn't a journalist out there who hasn't covered a story at some point in our careers that haunts us years later.

Todd said...


I believe that anyone that covers ir play a part in any tragedy, especially when children are involved may need counseling. I previously worked in Arkansas DCFS (Missouri DSS)and some of the things that you see and deal with are beyond comphrehension and it is why I got out of it. Too many sleepless nights. I personally know counselors that worked with kids after the Jonesboro Westside school shootings who had to get counseling themselves. To me it would seem abnormal for a reporter NOT to get emotionally involved when covering such stories. That reporter would really have to be uncaring and unreal.