A slain teen makes some new Facebook friends: reporters

Authorities say 14-year-old Katie Rios was killed in rural Cass County January 7. A teenage relative of Rios’ was arrested that night.

A Facebook page set up in the hours after Rios died — “In Loving Memory of Katie Rios” — had nearly 800 fans by the next morning.

Among those quick to leave their condolences on the page were several prominent Kansas City reporters.

Newly bereaved vultures began landing in short order. Fox 4’s Tess Koppelman posted:

“Such a tragic loss … she was so young. My thoughts are with all her friends and family. If anyone who is friends with Katie would like to speak to us at Fox 4 News, to tell us more about her and her life, please message me (I’m a reporter) or call our assignment desk at 816-932-9201.”

KCTV Channel 5’s Kelly Hicks was apparently doing Eric Chaloux‘s dirty work:

“To the Friends and Family of Katie Rios — You are in our thoughts and prayers as you deal with this unspeakable tragedy. If anyone would like to share memories of Katie, we would love to hear from you. You can reach our reporter Eric Chaloux at EChaloux@kctv5.com. You can also contact our news desk at NewsDesk@kctv5.com.”

At least KSHB Channel 41’s iPhone-wielding Russ Ptacek was straight up about what he wanted:

“I’m a reporter working on a story about her for tonight’s news. Please message me your number if you have memories you want to share.”

An hour later, Ptacek asked again:

“You can reach NBC Action News at 816-932-4141 or message me to share your memories.”

The Cass County Democrat lacks the sex appeal of camera crews and 10 p.m. broadcasts, but it wasn’t out of the hunt. That paper’s Ashley Freburg — from her personal Facebook account, judging by the profile photo visible with her comment — left a more small-town kind of plea for inside information:

“The staff of the Cass County Democrat would like to send our deepest condolences to all of those touched by this tragedy. We cannot imagine what Katie’s family and friends must be going through. We want to learn more about what Katie was like in life. If anyone is willing to share, contact us at afischer@demo-mo.com or stop by our office. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.”

Writing on The Pitch‘s news blog (Plog) January 8, Justin Kendall tracked the story-hungry Facebookers. Later that afternoon, Ptacek and Freburg took down their posts.

It was a small victory for good taste in the world of TV news gathering.

Weep for decorum at blogs.pitch.com

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