CNN correspondent Sara Sidner experienced a wave of emotion on Tuesday morning while reporting on the disastrous effects of the coronavirus among Black and Latino communities in Los Angeles.
Sidner’s emotional reaction broke the fourth wall that many journalists uphold in order to deliver objective, fact-based reporting. However, that tactic can only last so long when exposed to an unprecedented amount of suffering on a daily basis.
In her reporting, Sidner shared the stories of hospital workers and families at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital located in South Los Angeles, surveying the grief among the community as deaths rise due to the pandemic. Sidner shared that the hospital facility is overrun with over 200 patients, with only a 131 capacity.
One family, in particular, lost their patriarch and matriarch, dying within 11 days of each other.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the life expectancy of community members was 10 years shorter than the rest of the state, pointing to the ways underserved neighborhoods are ill equipped, stripped of resources and access to information and healthcare.
After the package aired Sidner tried to keep her composure but was overcome as she summarized her journey as a reporter on the frontlines.
“You know \this is the tenth hospital that I’ve been in—I’m sorry—this is the tenth—I apologize,” said Sidner, pausing to breathe. “I’m going to try to get through this. “This is the tenth hospital that I have been in, and to see the way that these families have to live after this and the heartache that goes so far and so wide. It’s really hard to take. I’m sorry.”
“Sarah no apology needed,” CNN “New Day” host Alisyn Camerota said in an effort to soothe her. “We’ve been watching your reporting on the ground throughout this horrific year. And we have all been struck by the grief—the collective grief, that all of us are in. And to see these families who are soldering through it, who are persevering and who are having to have these funerals in parking lots, like the ones you showed us, it is just a collective trauma that all of us are living through. And Sara we all appreciate the heart that you bring to this every single day, as well as your excellent reporting.”
“Thanks, it’s just not okay. It’s not okay what we’re doing to each other,” Sidner responded. “These families should not be going through this. No family should be going through this. So please listen to what this family is saying. Don’t let this be you. Do whatever you can to keep this from killing your family members and your neighbors and your friends and your teachers and doctors and firefighters. Are all of these people are here to help you, but you have to do your part.
Later via Twitter, Sidner said that she is still reflecting on the emotional moment.
Watch the full report below.