Covering the Manuel Valle Execution

On the Miami Herald site today there’s a rather thoughtful account from a Herald reporter about what it was like being a media witness to the Manuel Valle execution last month, which was her first to cover.
Here’s some of what the reporter had to say:

Most journalists who witness lethal injections have never seen or heard the condemned until they appear in the death chamber, minutes before they die.

But I had encountered the 61-year-old Valle in a Miami courtroom two months before his execution. He wore an orange-and-blue prison uniform. He smiled weakly at his family. He referred to the judge as “Your Honor.”

Reporters make a point of keeping a distance from our subjects — especially with executions. Inmates live in faraway prisons. They almost never give interviews. Their relatives rarely want to speak. We write our stories, as a result, with a certain degree of detachment.

For my first execution, it would have been easier to remain dispassionate. But I didn’t have that luxury.

Sitting a few feet from Valle when he was alive altered my lens. I felt pity.

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