Reaction to Angels and Ghosts: Anatomy of a Story

Diana Sugg is an award winning journalist and has a strong passion for writing about people’s struggles. Her passion has gotten her involved in a number of hard-hitting journalism pieces, especially her series published in The Baltimore Sun “If I die”, a heartbreaking look into the final moments of a mother and her dying 12 year old son, R.J. Sugg goes on to write a personal follow up to this piece about how complicated it was to gather information and write about such a personal, challenging topic. In it, she divulges into how this experience changed her as a journalist.


Sugg followed her passion and started digging around for leads to write a story exploring this devastating topic. Her experience gave her the confidence and courage to step forward and ask for access to the affected families. It also gave her the background to encounter R.J.’s mother with gentleness and kindness. Often times in journalism seen today, reporters are seen as wild animals hunting down the scent of a story, willing to use any means necessary to break the news first. This type of reporting has no place in a hospital, much less the intimate setting of a family’s last days together. Sugg’s main focus during this journey was to respect R.J. and his mother. She refrained from asking any more questions than what was felt welcomed and grew to care for the family as individuals, not as just pawns ready to use at her disposal. Sugg’s journalism style was not at all greedy and every intention came from her heart. Her purpose of writing was to give an account on a monstrosity happening to families all over the country and to open the conversation about life and death.

Although Sugg exhibited only reverence and professional with the family, she was struggling with her own moral dilemma. She asked herself if she was pushing too far and if her account was revealing too much to the public. It is refreshing to hear from a journalist a little remorse, to hear her step outside of the story and find perspective on the situation. It is easy to see how Sugg and her photographer Monica Lopossay felt like vultures, hovering over a dying child and feeding off of their pain. In this situation, it would be hard not to feel cruel. However, Sugg clearly went deeper than just the story. She genuinely felt for R.J. and helped him in any small way she could. She did not relish in reading his journal and uncovering his deepest emotions. She did not exploit becoming his mother’s closest ally in this war, and remained a friend with Michele even after his death.

Diana Sugg provided a deep and enduring look into a young boy’s last moments, and his mother’s struggle to hold on. She did so in a fashion that is respectful and truthful without an ulterior motive, which is refreshing in this day and age of news reporting. Her dedication to this story’s integrity is as inspiring as the story’s message, and challenges us all to live life more courageously.



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