I think this is a really tricky one, and I’m worried I might sound a tad heartless when I write this. What if you knew from Facebook/twitter/word on the grapevine that a journalist on your pitch-list is having a bad time? Sally doesn’t think it helps, Heather does..
Personally, I would continue as normal, for the simple reason that if the journalist is at work – I’d imagine they want to be working. Should you mention their situation? ("Sorry to hear about…"). I suggest not, unless the journalist is a close friend, and no, that doesn’t mean one that frequently writes about your clients.
Surely bringing up their troubles would, at best, be intrusive, and at worse, be downright manipulative. I can only recall one occasion of ever using a journalist’s personal information in a pitch. It was a wedding-related product for a journalist bride-to-be. Even then I felt just a tad sketchy about it.