This guide, written by normal people who have been through something similar, is intended to help you with decision making, dealing with common situations, and recommendations for how to honor your loved one as you deal with this difficult time.
Most importantly, don't forget to take care of yourself.
As you consider your options and make decisions about how willing you are to interview, there are a few things you should think about.
Going public is a way to have the broadest impact. Your story will be seen by many people who otherwise wouldn’t be aware. Professional news organizations know how to get a story out and make it resonate with a broad audience. You will also have a recorded asset that you can use for other situations going forward.
If you aren’t comfortable going public, remember you can still have an impact by sharing your story with a more limited audience, getting involved behind the scenes with a related cause, or helping survivors. You can also leverage social media to get your message out. If you change your mind in the future, you will still have an opportunity to get your story out.
Not everybody is comfortable on-camera. It’s ok to have another family member tell the story if you don’t feel you can do it.
If so, you do NOT want to say anything that could jeopardize the possibility of finding and prosecuting the guilty party/parties.
We recommend talking to the Detective in charge of the case about the media and asking for specific guidelines on what you shouldn’t talk about.
If there are minors involved, make sure and do not name them or provide information that allows viewers/readers to identify them. Minors have a special status and should not be named without explicit permission from the parent or guardian. We recommend keeping them anonymous in most cases to protect them.
Do you simply want to tell the story, or do you have other goals for getting your story out? For instance, do you want to drive accountability by officials you feel have let you down? Do you have a message for the community?
We recommend maximizing the impact of your story by calling attention to the problem of Fentanyl poisoning and pointing viewers/readers to important organizations like TXAF.org. See below for example talking points.
Think about potential questions that may lead you into uncomfortable territory. Interviewers may ask about sensitive topics such as:
You do NOT have to go into sensitive areas or re-live painful memories, but it’s important to tell the interviewer up front so that they know what questions to avoid.
IMPORTANT: You do not have to answer any question that you don’t want to answer.
Interviews can be scary, but a little preparation and a few questions will set you at ease and allow you to present your story the way you want it to be handled. You should gather some upfront information and decide what you are comfortable with. Here are some questions you should ask up-front.
In our experience, they most likely want to do an in-person interview. However, they may be willing to consider a phone interview or a video conference. We do NOT recommend doing a live interview unless you are either very comfortable talking on camera or have media training. Most organizations prefer to pre-record the interview so that they can make edits and decide what footage they want to use.
Expect it to be the same day, but it’s good to check and they can likely tell you the channel and time so you can let people know. It’s possible that the interview or article will be picked up by aggregators (ex. Yahoo News, Google News), and other news organizations may create their own story from the interview. They do NOT need to ask you for permission to write an article or do a story about the interview you agreed to. Through this amplification process, your story can carry out to national or even international news.
You should count on at least an hour for the in-person interview, maybe as much as two hours. They will likely ask to come to your house, which will help make you comfortable. Think about what room has the best lighting and make sure you put away anything you don’t want on camera. Let the reporter know how much time you have.
They may or may not share, but it’s good to get a sense for their “angle” on the story. This is a good time to let them know if there are areas you do not wish to explore with them. See below for common questions you can expect.
Journalists and their camera crew like to get video/photos of pictures, memorabilia and other visuals related to your loved one to show while they are delivering the story. Think about what pictures you want shown and have those ready to go. If there are things you don’t want on camera, either set the out of the way or let the team know.
Some organizations will share the full unedited video with you or even with the public (typically via their website and social media) if you are comfortable with it. Otherwise, expect that the footage will be chopped way down to fit into a 1-2 minute video. It’s a good idea to get the full unedited video so that you can use the footage for future awareness/education videos.
This is your opportunity to talk about what you loved about your loved one and to paint a more complete picture of them to viewers/readers. Tell them about what made them happy, their hobbies, clubs/teams they belonged to, what kinds of things they did with their friends. Talk about how much they are missed and the reaction from the people that knew them.
This will be one of the hardest questions to answer because you will be forced to re-live the terrible events, so breathe and take your time. It’s good to prepare yourself with the key events of the day and approximate times. This is not a police interview, so you don’t need to worry about being precise. Just walk through how the day was normal, how suddenly it turned into a nightmare, and then how it felt to lose your loved one. If you know, include the name of the drug they thought they were taking which poisoned them.
This is a great opportunity to spread awareness and educate the public. Be prepared with a few key points you want to make. Here are a few examples and you can find other important facts at TXAF.org.:
Interviewers will probably want to know who you blame for this horrible tragedy and your answer will likely make the broadcast. There is plenty of blame to go around and it’s normal to be angry. Drug dealers, friends, schools, police - you may even blame yourself. Just think about what you want to say ahead of time and how you want it to come across.
This is a personal decision. Many parents may want to keep their child’s room private. Reporters may ask in order to show the bedroom while they are talking. Think about it ahead of time and be ready to say yes or no.
Glad you asked! Here are a few other tips: