A bank forecloses on a house, and a court order is issued to evict the family. Police surround a house for nearly two hours waiting for the family to leave their home. All ends peacefully. It is the last of 35 eviction orders served that day. What do you report?
The newspaper has an obligation to report the circumstances of this specific eviction; the standoff is news in the neighborhood. Beyond that, however, is the “second-day story” that newspapers often ignore. This is an example of a sensitive – and important – story that demands follow-up.
The real news is that this was the 35th eviction served in a single day. That fact raises all sorts of questions and potential stories. Among them: Did these evicted families share a common profile? Where did they spend the next night, week, month? Are there community resources to assist them – before they ever reach this point and after their eviction? Coverage of sensitive stories demands attention on two fronts: fair and consistent coverage of the event itself, and examination of follow-up stories that offer greater understanding to the original event.