Casey Seiler reports:
By 3 p.m., the media encampment at Treadwell Memorial Park had waited for more than four hours since the last press briefing from law enforcement officials on the facts of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As the sun sank behind the deserted playground at the far end of the park — in the direction of the school — they checked their phones and laptops, and pulled on hats and gloves against the drop in temperature.
“The Russians are here, the French are here,” said a Japanese broadcaster who, while acknowledging the irony, asked that his name not be used so as not to break company policy.
At least three dozen satellite trucks were idling, sending up a cloud of exhaust that remained stationary in the absence of a breeze. The tightest part of the media thicket was just about the park soccer field, which was immaculately kept and, like the adjacent baseball field, completely empty. This was where the morning briefing had taken place, and no one was about to abandon their tripod position when the next one was imminent.
Weaving around the reporters and technicians and their gear, local residents took in the scene.
Jake DeVellis, a 2009 graduate of Newtown High School, stood with his older brother and two friends, and talked about how stunning it was to see your town at the center of a media vortex — at the park where he was more used to playing basketball in warmer weather. “You flip through channels 1 through 10 and everybody was handling it,” he said.
“It’s a place that’s meant for kids to play,” said DeVellis’ brother Joe.
The international contingent included Canadian and Brazilian reporters, as well as a crew from the Republic of Georgia — most of them dispatched from bureaus in Washington, D.C., or New York City. There were license plates from Maryland, Quebec, Ontario, Maine, and down the eastern seaboard as far as North Carolina.
The Japanese journalist said that one element of the story for foreign audiences was America’s relationship with guns. “It’s hard to understand why you need guns in such an accessible situation,” he said. ” … Is there going to be a tragic incident that changes American gun laws?”
Asked how he could handle the vehicle exhaust for hours on end, he gave a wan smile. “The scent is actually how big the story is,” he said. “It tells us how much interest there is, and it’s not a bad interest.”
Here’s video of four teenagers who had just arrived at Treadwell Memorial to demonstrate their belief that the community would endure:
At the main intersection in Sandy Hook, another clutch of satellite trucks were idling in the parking lot of the Wesley Learning Center, next to Newtown United Methodist Church, where a memorial had been closed to the media. In the Stone River Grille opposite the police barricade, the entire clientele was made up of journalists — on cellphones and laptops, taking advantage of the wi-fi.
A contingent of adults and small children came in and were initially seated at a long table in the main dining room before the management decided to give them a more private space upstairs.
“Look at this — reporter, reporter, reporter,” said one man who was part of the group. “That guy’s editing video back there.”