Monday, December 17, 2012
With so many innocent victims to be found in Newtown, Connecticut, I’m not about to pretend The Media is among them. But in the wake of unspeakable tragedy, my profession has suffered a few slings and arrows it does and does not deserve. More on that, later. First though, wanna stop the kind of atrocities that befell Sandy Hook? Unplug that violent video game! Throw down your weapons! Hit your knees and beg that guy in the sky to show mercy on this heartless orb. Maybe then, the clouds will clear and we’ll return to a world where school kids are safe behind brick and mortar. Just don’t look to The Media for answers. We got nothin’ but questions, anyway. Clumsy, ugly, hurtful questions, the kinds of inquiry you can’t imagine asking yourself, but the kind fully expect to see answered in full when you lean into your screen.
It’s an ugly piece of business, one that those of us on the ground would like to do without. But until the moon cracks in half and mankind is left staring slack-jawed at a new kind of eclipse, horrible things are going to happen. When they do, rest assured my kind will be there, breathless, vexed and at the ready. Think what you will of The Fourth Estate, but no one I know wants to be on scene when children die. I myself ain’t exactly the praying type, but even I appealed to my maker when I heard the news. First I thanked him (her?) for keeping my own children safe. Secondly I offered my eternal thanks for keeping this latest piece of savagery far from the place I call home. Selfish? Youbetcha. But the unrelenting scrum that forms around this level of bloodshed is the kind I can only stomach once or twice a lifetime. Virginia Tech was more than enough.
But I’m not here to remove myself from the shadow of Blacksburg. Back then, The Media caught a lot of heat for ghastly tactics and a questionable bedside manner. Of that we were guilty and maybe more but it’s hard to keep score when Geraldo is running loose. Me, I kept my nose relatively clean - but grab-ass just naturally breaks out at the sat truck farm and if I can be convicted of anything, it’s enjoying my work too much. One thing I don’t enjoy is traumatizing kids. l got two of my own and while they’re not so little anymore, I remember when they were. Hurting even the feelings of a youngster still in shock and ain’t exactly on my bucket list and neither is defending that action to any half-mad Dads. But while much has been made of news crews interviewing kids in the minutes (and hours) following the massacre, I just can’t grab a pitchfork this time. Had I been cursed enough to be on scene, there’s not a doubt in my mind I’d have quizzed any one who would have offered my lens even half an explanation.
That make it right? Probably not. But an effective press is an energetic one and even a nat-pack slacker like myself knows enough to shoot first and review the tape later. Considering all the misinformation that flowed out of Connecticut last Friday, a little more review may be in order. Don’t hold your breath, though. In a time when lies and misconceptions hosts their own Twitter accounts before the Truth can clear its throat, urgency trumps analysis. Now that very idea of a deadline is growing quaint, you can look for assumptions and conjecture to be passed as fact. Just don’t think The Media pack was enjoying itself that day. Many of us have kids of our own and most of us still know how to feel. Quizzing strangers of any age about the very worst day of their life ain’t the way we want to spend our day and even with their parent’s permission, grilling children about things they’d be better off forgetting is fraught with peril for all involved and never, never easy.
I’m guessing nothing in Newtown was easy that day.