It’s Not About You

We were just finishing lunch when our Nextel beep-beeped from the assignment desk. The urgency in Robert’s voice told us to be on the way before he even gave us the address… urgent enough for us to divert the last bites of our lunch to the garbage on the way out.

We were less than a mile away from 21st and N. Bayshore.. it took just a few minutes to arrive at the condo construction site where a seven-ton section of crane had broken free from its tethers and crashed through an office.  The results were catastrophic; two men were killed, many of their co-workers hurt.

At home later that night, I tuned in to the late newscasts to see what had transpired in the hours since…  And that’s where I watched a fellow reporter give life to the sad stereotype of a television news reporter.

No names here – my intention is not to embarrass, just to groan more publically than I probably should.

This particular reporter happened to live near the construction site.  She had the presence of mind to grab a camera, hit record, and document what she was seeing. Good job – that’s good reporter instinct. Better yet, as a good samaritan, she also had the presence of mind to call 911.

But all that good stuff got lost in the report that made the news later that night.

Good hard work got buried in self-centered verbal debris. “I did this” and “I saw that” and  “I was able to … ”   the me-me-me-ness of it all felt less about the disaster and more about the reporter’s day.

An involved, passionate reporter gives life to the people and events in the report, connects the viewer to the material. That’s different from Being the story. And the line is not so fine, fairly easy to distinguish, and clear when it’s crossed.

The anchorman felt compelled to follow up with the question … “how traumatic was it for you?”

What might the families of the men who died have thought.

This is nothing personal, really.  It’s just that we television reporters have a hard enough time dispelling stereotypes and building good reputations without having our critics be right.

That plummeting crane cut short two lives in a sudden horrific instance. And eventually it may uncover serious and dangerous flaws in an industry important to our community.  Viewers deserve information …  what went wrong, how, why and what,  if anything, will change for them because of it.  Respect and sensitivity makes that more watchable.

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2 Responses

  1. Well said, well said; did not see the other reporter’s version but it seems he/she became the story which leaves a sour taste. You have reported for so many years that you have the ability to fairly comment on the colleague. What occurred is human nature, score one for the cub reporter that got so overwhelmed by the depth and tragedy of the moment, that he/she instantly b/came part of the story——score minus one for the editor or news manager that did not clean up the story before it went on air; it is like the general lot of you journalist types that stick a mike into the unwanting face of a parent whose child is missing; or the loving mom who learned that a missing son in Iraq has now been found dead and is now a statistic of wartime; or the middle school student who learns that a loving peer has been killed by a reckless drunk driver; you newstypes have hardened not just yourselves, but all of us, with your neverending need to be the best, get the first scoop, get the most horrifying details of one of the aforesaid tragedies whether it’s the plummeting deadly crane or the horrified middle school student. Seeing your colleague clothe herself in the tragedy top story of the day made you think about what you know not to do; so, it is, perhaps, a lesson you need to broach with your fellow valued colleagues… perhaps!!!

  2. So why are you watching other stations news? Ever heard stop listening to others and just do what you know how to do best at your job.

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