Dispatches from a Reporter's Notebook

Audience of One

Posted December 18, 2006 10:25 p.m. EST
Updated December 20, 2006 12:26 p.m. EST

There are few times in television news that we know for sure that what we do can make a difference. Finding missing people is one of them.

I spoke to two teenage girls in Sanford tonight who are desperately looking for their mother.  Thirty-eight-year-old Sherry Massa disappeared on her way to work this morning.  Her daughters saw her car abandoned on the side of road when they were on their way to school. Upon closer inspection the car appeared to have been side-swiped. It had a smashed window and was still running. They called 911.

Investigators know that Massa was separated from her husband, Raymond Massa, and had taken out a restraining order against him two weeks ago, accusing him of assault and constant harassment. Investigators want to speak to him. So do his daughters.

Tonight, 19-year-old Ashley Massa looked right into the camera and spoke directly to her father. She told him how much she and her sister love her mother, how much they want her home safely. They say Sherry is their "everything," the center of their lives, a mother they can talk to about everything.  Despite what he may have done, Ashley also told her father she loves him, and that if he loves her, he will honor her wish to bring her mother home.

Watching a young woman speak these words is compelling television. It's something from which few viewers, especially mothers, could turn away.  But tonight , Ashley Massa was speaking not to tens of thousands of people, but to an audience of one, her father. In her story, he is the only one in the audience that matters. She prays he is listening. So do I.

About this Blog:

WRAL's Amanda Lamb offers a behind-the-scenes look at what TV news reporters do, the people they meet and how their jobs affect them.