Read this: You'll never think about survivors of tragedy in the same way again.

Adrianne, who lost part of her left leg in the Boston Marathon attack, tweeted “I feel so disrespected” after abruptly leaving a taping of Meet the Press. (Picture: Twitter.)

Adrianne Haslet-Davis is a professional ballroom dancer, former dance instructor and public speaker.

She’s also a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing, an incident that left her without a left foot.

Adrianne, 33, has been in the news this week because on Friday, she left a Boston television studio in tears before a taping of NBC’s Meet the Press, on which she was scheduled to join a roundtable discussion to mark the one-year anniversary of the horrific event on 15 April.

Her tears were provoked, she said, by a broken promise by the network: she had asked that the names of the accused bombers not come up during the show’s taping, and the producers of the Sunday morning show had reportedly agreed before revoking that promise shortly before filming.

Adrianne before the blast (L) and in hospital (R). (Pictures: Twitter.)

After leaving the studio, she tweeted to her followers: “Cannot believe (Meet the Press) chose to use the bomber’s name instead of respect their guest. Had to walk off set crying.”

“I feel so disrespected. I asked politely yesterday and you said yes. Now you choose to use the name instead.”

NBC News released a statement on Friday evening saying it regretted “any distress caused by this miscommunication”. Meet the Press host David Gregory also tweeted late Friday that “her comfort level is far more imp(ortant) than any show”, and NBC News spokeswoman Erika Masonhall has said NBC News president had left a voicemail for Adrianne apologising for any confusion.

But although these apologies were promptly and publicly offered, what was missing was a comprehensive explanation of why.

Why, exactly, was the decision ultimately made not to honour Adrianne’s wish? Why was it seemingly more important for this popular show to name the perpetrators of an evil act than to respect the wishes of a woman harmed by their terrorism?

And in a wider sense, why is the media so preoccupied with the stories of criminals when there are incredible survivor stories that have yet to be told?


This point was raised by Adrianne herself, who added shortly after her other tweets: “Let’s change the dialect to honor the survivors and not focus on the criminals.” And her suggestion raises a pertinent point, as just a moment’s reflection makes it clear.

Because, let’s be honest, I bet you’re more likely to know the name of the man who orchestrated the 9/11 attacks but the identities of even one of the 2,977 victims would escape your memory.

Boston bomber on the cover of Rolling Stone. Like a rockstar.

And the face of the Boston bombers? At least one of them would be instantly familiar to you — because Rolling Stone chose to feature his image on their cover. (I wonder if it considered running a survivors’ photograph on that cover?)

Intentionally or otherwise, the media has a way of focusing on catastrophe and overexposing the macabre.

Sometimes, it’s simply in the public interest to make the details of horrific events known — nobody could realistically argue that the Boston Marathon attack shouldn’t have been reported in the first place, for example.

But at other times? At other times, it’s in the public interest to stop rehashing dark, horrible, gritty details of a traumatic event, and to hold back from publicising every gory detail at every opportunity. Because sometimes, the most important thing is to let a group of survivors, a community, or a city, mend and move forward.

To do otherwise on those occasions is to risk victimising the brave survivors of traumatic events — at a time when they should be applauded and assisted to heal.

As Adrianne eloquently wrote in an open letter to the network on her website:

“My second request you know of, to be referred to as a survivor, not a victim. This one you honoured, but I think you forget what a victim truly is defined as. For I will not be a victim, not on anyone’s level, whether it be from a terrorist, or the press.”

Do you agree that there circumstances in which the names of perpetrators should be intentionally omitted from media reports?

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