I was with a group of friends last Friday night, throwing some cards around and enjoying a few adult beverages, when the news coverage on the television started to take over everyone’s attention. The authorities had closed in on the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, and apparently had him pinned down in a boat in someone’s back yard.
Conversation turned into a rambling convolution of stories people had read or seen on the suspects, and there were several comments about how law enforcement officials should just clear out the neighborhood, blow up the boat and be done with it, once and for all.
I argued half-heartedly why that wasn’t the best course of action to be taken, but was intrigued by how passionately people were taking this situation, and how much attention they had been paying to the news over the days between the bombings and the arrest of the second suspect. In a fast-moving world where people get many of their current events from headlines on their Internet homepages or alerts on their phones, people were actually paying attention, and that was most definitely a good thing to me.
You see, one of the perils of my job is that whenever a major event takes place, I can’t help but wonder what we would do to provide coverage if something like that happened in our area. Who would get the main story? Who would provide support with interviews and background? What photographers would we dispatch, and where would we aim them? How much would we honor every request by law enforcement, as opposed to our desire to provide as much information to the public as we can?
Trust me on this — I do not want something like that to ever happen in this area. We have had to cover murders and a disgusting pediatrician that made all our stomachs turn with his actions, and those were extremely difficult situations. But it is what we do, and we have to be prepared for any and all situations.
For example, I present the case of Chen Ying, a television reporter in China.
Fifteen minutes after the massive earthquake hit China last weekend and took at least 188 people’s lives, along with injuring more than 11,500 other people, Chen Ying was on the street with a microphone in her hand getting interviews from people to share their stories. She was in front of the camera, sharing what she knew and relaying to people what to do.
And she was wearing a wedding gown with a veil and a wrist corsage.
It seems that Chen Ying was getting her makeup done for her wedding ceremony when the earthquake hit, and she immediately ran out to “get the story.”
Of course, reading that made me think about our staff here. Would any of them abandon their wedding preparations to rush to the scene of a tragedy so they can share that information with the community? Actually, yeah, I could see that. But if they are reading this column, and I kind of doubt they are ... DO?NOT.
Yes, it would need to get immediate coverage, but we could get somebody out there who isn’t about to take part in one of the biggest days of her life, and to be honest, that reporter would probably have a little bit more focus at the time. While I applaud Chen Ying’s dedication to her craft, I kind of think she’s crazy. And we already have far too much crazy in this office.
Right, Chris Clark?
Of course, some reporters make news on their own, and not necessarily because of over-the-top dedication like our Chinese cohort.
A.J. Clemente, a weekend news anchor in North Dakota, got his opportunity to lead his first news broadcast the other day, and he was certainly nervous.
So nervous, in fact, that he dropped an F-bomb on live television. He was soon suspended, then ultimately fired for his transgression.
Would one of my reporters do that? Probably not on camera, as they are all pretty conscientious, I have to admit. But don’t ask me if they would drop an F-bomb on their editor in his office.
I’m guessing you already know the answer to that. And I can’t help but wonder if Chen Ying is available.