When a reporter on Prince St. told a Soho resident yesterday that he was there to write about the Etan Patz murder, the resident gave him a typical response: “I hope when you go to bed tonight you’re a real stressed motherf***er.”
(By Paul Bisceglio.)
The resident’s antagonism reflects the community’s growing hostility towards the media around the Patz family’s home. Journalists’ cars and vans have crowded the intersection of Prince and Wooster Streets since last Friday, when 51-year-old New Jersey resident Pedro Hernandez was arrested for murdering 6-year-old Etan 33 years after he disappeared on his way to a bus stop on nearby West Broadway.
In 1979, Patz’s family and the Soho community relied on media outlets to spread the word about their missing son. In the wake of Hernandez’s arrest, the family has repeatedly asked journalists to leave them alone. Tension between the press and the community is palpable.
“They hate us,” one berated reporter said. He cited multiple incidents of verbal abuse directed at journalists around the scene, and even an attempted attack with a wheelchair.
Many community members were happy to affirm their discontent. Jaime Gutierrez, founder of the blog sohonyc.com, said that after so long, Soho was ready to let the story go. Another resident said that the reporters should “get real jobs” and leave the family at peace. A young street vendor put it more bluntly: “They’re f***ing goons,” she said of the media.
“I feel a bit like a goon,” one photographer admitted when told about the charge. He thought that the coverage was excessive, and disagreed with some reporters’ invasive tactics – shadowing family members on the streets, badgering them for quotes, looking through windows.
The photographer, however, emphasized that the choice was out of his hands. He was told where to be and was simply doing his job.
Other journalists were more defensive about their place in the community. One reporter noted that the media’s presence pressures police to resolve the case, so it does more good than harm. Another mentioned that journalists were providing details that many community members wanted to hear.
More than anything, though, the journalists were hot and bored. Sitting in their cars for hours in 90 degree weather, frustrated that they would be in the same place tomorrow just waiting for something to happen, most were as eager as Patz’s family to put the story to rest.
Trackback from your site.