Most people think of TV journalists as highly obtrusive, deeply addicted interlopers with an overwhelming jones for the Big Story. Some are, certainly, but my favorite news gatherers have an acute appreciate of the little things in life. You know, like the lowly tale of a mangy mutt hovering over the remains of a fallen friend. A scenario like that won’t top anyone’s line-up, but when properly documented, it can connect with viewers in a way that over-hyped, undercover expose never will. Those of us with enough time in the trenches recognize this salient fact and will bludgeon each other with our wireless microphones to be the first on the scene of a story with water-cooler chat potential. Such was the case yesterday when I dropped a stack of American Idol discs to race to the side of the canine in question.
Too bad a pair of powerful storytellers were already stalking the perimeter. Intrepid White and resourceful Weaver preceded me by only about ten minutes, but by the time I rolled up the master hunters already had their quarry in sights. I knew immediately the spoils would be theirs and dug out my digital camera to better record the recorders. Whitey and Weave barely acknowledged my presence. Instead they focused on the reticent cur in the distance, a mysterious animal who’d attracted the attention of news crews and pet lovers alike with his insistent vigil over a decomposing companion. With every furtive move my colleagues made, the poor mutt cowered and retreated, reluctant to leave his post but mistrustful of human encroachment.
But my friends meant no harm. They merely wanted to chronicle the act of loyalty at hand, capture it from every angle and mine them all for any emotion. To that end, Team W had a great deal of assistance from a curious passerby who just happened to be an impassioned advocate for animal rights. As the kindly woman spilled lucid sound-bites into my co-workers’ microphones, I thought of all those days I’d spent chasing far less memorable fodder to absolutely no avail. On this day however, the News Gods smiled, blessing those of my logo with unlikely visuals, repetitive action and enthusiastic sound. And though they never made eye contact with me, I saw a look of quiet satisfaction on Weaver’s face. When I crawled back in Unit 4, I wore my own smile, sorry only that the masterpiece in the making wasn’t mine.
So I drowned my sorrows in red carpet soliloquies and syncopated sound. I guess Idol’s good for something.