Debra talked with Gail Zahtz today for an hour and a half on blog radio. They experienced some technical difficulties this morning, but that didn’t faze either of the consummate professionals.
Debra talked at length about the beginning of her career and how she moved from Wall Street to television. One amazing thing about her story is that she was on Wall Street, on her way to the towers on 9/11. It was watching the local reporters covering the stories of people looking for loved ones in the aftermath of the attack that convinced her to change careers. She said she knew she wanted to “tell the stories and be respectful.” She jokingly adds, “I can’t knit you a sweater, but I can do this.”
One of the great things about an extended interview like this is that you learn so much about the people behind the stories. Debra talked about how she only has a few seconds to present each story, and that’s never enough time. Today, with this extended format, we got to hear what it’s been like tracking down the #JusticeForEthan story and the frustration she feels. It’s no surprise that many of the questions she has, are the same as the ones I have. They are the same ones that the Saylors have. Debra has the same questions that many of the 340,000 people who signed the petition are asking. This is what makes her a great reporter and an asset to “the team.”
Her biggest question seems to be why no one is talking about this. This applies to both the officials who won’t return her calls (Sheriff Jenkins and Governor O’Malley) and her counterparts on other news programs. Debra and Gail talked possible explanations, but could only speculate like the rest of us. Gail asked “If there was more noise, more pressure, would people return your calls?” Without hesitation, Debra responded, “Absolutely.”
Even though the interview was less than the scheduled two hours because of technical problems, it was easy to hear the passion these women in media share for their craft, and for their community. “Journalism, at its core, is about speaking up for those who can’t,” Debra said. “I just know the family wants answers.” “It doesn’t matter that he had Down syndrome. It was ruled a homicide.” “This could happen to anybody.”
“I’d love to hear what the sheriff has to say – what the deputies have to say,” says Debra. She calls and leaves messages for both the sheriff and the Governor every week but gets no response. Hopefully, as the #JusticeForEthan movement continues with her help, we’ll get those answers. We’re not giving up and it’s nice to know that Debra is with us all the way!
Today, as we remember the victims of 9/11 and their families, Debra says it's that same feeling she had after that horrible tragedy that drives her to keep on top of Ethan's story. That personal connection and desire to help family members looking for answers.
To listen to the entire interview and hear more about her amazing career and passion for justice, click here.