Gibson story ‘tabloid-esque’

Published 7:58 am Wednesday, July 21, 2010

To the Editor:

As a citizen of Southampton County for the past 22 years of my life and a weekly reader of The Tidewater News, I was extremely disheartened and disappointed to read the most recent article written about Martha Gibson (“Courtland woman arrested,” Friday, July 16).

Throughout my life, I have viewed The Tidewater News as a hometown newspaper, eager to tell the community about the latest Courtland softball victory or recognizing local residents for various accomplishments.

Instead, I now have come to see it as a “Page Six” or “Paris Hilton”-style gossip newsletter, full of details that are not only inappropriate for mass distribution but have the power to harm some of Southampton County’s very own citizens.

While I have not spoken to Michelle Gibson in years, I always fondly remember playing at her house as a child.I enjoyed talking to her mother as she painted beautiful pictures for me, ones that I still treasure today.

I was saddened to learn of Mr. Gibson’s recent death, as well as the most recent incident involving Mrs. Gibson. I can imagine how difficult this period of time has been both for Mrs. Gibson and Michelle, and was in complete shock when The Tidewater News gave a detailed account as to the events of last Sunday night.

At a time when the community should be gathering together to help a family that has suffered a tragic loss, we are instead using the story as public fodder.

Though I am not condoning the actions of Mrs. Gibson that night, I think that the Franklin/Southampton community should be above this type of “tabloid-esque” news story.

Michelle does not deserve this and neither does the rest of the Gibson’s friends and family. I think they have dealt with enough over the past couple of weeks.

I have never written a letter to the editor in my entire life, but to see someone’s personal crisis on display in such a public forum made me feel this was necessary. Although I understand the concept of freedom of press, I believe that there should be some discretion used in printing stories of such a sensitive nature.

I know I am not the only one who agrees that we would like The Tidewater News to be a respectful news outlet who cares about its residents, instead of trying to make their personal tragedy the headline news of the day.

To Michelle and the rest of the Gibson family, please know that there are many people here for you during this tragic time.

We are so sorry for your loss and know you are in our thoughts and prayers.

Lauren Bradshaw