Shooting survivor gives perspective on media coverage


Missy Jenkins-Smith, front left, visited the Reporting for Broadcast and Online Media class to give her perspective on dealing with the media following a traumatic event.


“I choose to be happy,” tells the story of Missy Jenkins-Smith being shot in the Heath High School shooting in 1997 and how she has since overcome the tragedy.

Jenkins-Smith was one of the five students injured in the shooting and author of the book, “I choose to be happy.” She was shot in the shoulder, where the bullet grazed her spinal cord, paralyzing her from the chest down.

Dec. 1, 1997 changed Missy’s life, but she chose happiness in the midst of the trauma.

Students in the JMC 398 Reporting for Broadcast and Online Media course spent the last few weeks of the fall semester learning about trauma journalism.

Jenkins-Smith visited the class to tell her story as well as give her perspective on what it was like dealing with the media as a survivor during a traumatic event.

She said when she was leaving Lourdes Hospital and being transferred to another facility, she had to have two police officers guarding her.

“I remember being attacked by the media as they were trying to pull me on a stretcher from the hospital to the MRI.”

It was not just her that endured the media frenzy but her family as well.

“As she (her sister) was leaving the hospital, a cameraman got in her face and said-tell us what’s going on,” Jenkins-Smith said. “I wish they would have just given me space…realizing personal space is one of the big, big things.”

She detailed another event with a major talk show host.

“I felt like a news story and that was upsetting,” Jenkins-Smith.

Although she shared negative experiences with students on what not to do in traumatic situations, Jenkins-Smith also described some of the positive encounters with the media.

She recalled Charlie Gibson from Good Morning America as being compassionate and not just worried about getting the top story.

“He seemed like a person… it wasn’t just about the news story,” Jenkins-Smith said.

She gave advice to the students about how to best deal with trauma survivors and victims.

“I felt like some of those people (journalists) that had been in it (journalism) for so long lost that part and it wasn’t about the person anymore…remember they are people too,” she said.

Jenkins-Smith is a Murray State alumnus who married her college sweetheart, Josh in 2006. They have two children, Logan and Carter.

She is a school counselor in Murray and continues to speak to students of all ages around the country about her story, gun violence and bullying.

“Having Missy speak during our class was very inspiring,” Alicia Steele, JMC 398 student said.

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Posted on 30 December 2016 by jmcjournal

Categorized | JMC Dept.