Trolls’ prove they are gutter scum by mocking a tragic loss of life

Jacinta CantatoreSouth Western Times
More flowers were today laid at the crash site where Australind resident Mary Edmonds was killed.
Camera IconMore flowers were today laid at the crash site where Australind resident Mary Edmonds was killed. Credit: Jacinta Cantatore/South Western Times

On Tuesday morning my colleagues had to do the very worst part of our job.

Our first information was that a school bus had hit a group of cyclists, and ambulances were on the scene.

Over the next couple of hours the police confirmed the worst: A person had died.

A school bus had struck several cyclists travelling along Ocean Drive in Bunbury.

One of the cyclists, a 63-year-old woman, died as a result of her injuries.

The 66-year-old bus driver and a 64-year-old woman were taken to Bunbury Hospital for treatment.

The four children on the bus were not injured, but like the passers-by and first responders at the scene, they will likely have suffered trauma at what they witnessed.

Despite TV and film portrayals of our profession, in my decade in newsrooms I’ve never met a journalist who likes this part of the job.

We all process it differently, but we all feel it.

Every time I report on a tragedy I go home to my children and hug them tightly.

I am reminded of the thin grip we have on this world and the need to make the most of every moment we are gifted.

The air in the office palpably changes when one of us is reporting on a death.

A life has been lost, so the stakes are higher. We try to make sure we rise to those stakes.

We ensure our stories are timely and factual.

But most importantly, we ensure they are respectful.

In online stories we blur out number plates in the photos.

If it’s an easily recognisably vehicle, or bicycle, we don’t publish a photo at all.

We rewrite the sentence containing the word “died” at least 20 times.

A doctor pronounces someone dead, not a journalist.

It’s never comfortable for us to say.

In each tragic incident we report, it is in the forefront of our minds that a family will forever be missing someone they love.

Police and first responders are out there doing the toughest work, so we ensure our reporting doesn’t make it harder for them or compromise their investigations.

On Tuesday my colleagues reported the facts of this tragedy with respect and compassion.

The same compassion was not found in the absolute gutter scum who visited our Facebook page.

As soon as our headlines reported a cyclist had been injured, people in the comments of our Facebook page began openly mocking the tragedy.

The typical armchair investigators made broad assumptions in our Facebook comments, laying the blame not only on the injured cyclists, but also narrow roads or winding roads, sunshine, or the behaviour of that-other-cyclist-guy-I-saw-that-one-time.

As first responders were trying to save a woman’s life, the dregs of society were publicly expressing their hopes that her injuries be fatal.

A person does not deserve to die because they choose to ride a bike.

I will never understand anyone making such hateful comments about another human being.

We deleted post after sickening post of morbid delight that someone might die for the supposed crime of being a cyclist.

While these disgusting flogs can still see their own handiwork, no one else can.

Because, dear scumbags, while we mostly let free speech run free as it should, every now and then we step in so no one has to suffer your crappy opinions.

Please don’t ever take the silence in the comments section as anyone agreeing with your views.

Your mates pressed snooze on your profile long ago, and the ones who still see what you write think you’re an idiot.

A woman did not go home to her family on Tuesday night.

Show some respect.

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