Thursday, October 23, 2014
Soldiers in the Street
I had been pretty much numb from the moment I saw the first bit of news about what was going on in Ottawa yesterday. I had wondered in passing why I wasn't more upset. What I inured to this stuff, becoming cynical? At about half-past seven I saw that cartoon and basically turned into a blubbering mess at my desk in the newsroom.
That picture says more than a thousand words about the waste of a life, about how soldiers think of each other and their duties, reminding me how strangers rushed to the aid of the mortally wounded man even though there was no guarantee the shooting was over. The image says something about how solders in the past and present are linked by service and sacrifice and a sense of duty, reminding me there were 60-thousand or so other Canadian volunteers who gave their lives in the Great War that started a century ago as of this year. It also makes me aware that we are still in a war; a long and protracted battle we don't understand the half of.
On a side note,
In my own reporting, I try to emulate the amazing Peter Mansbridge who, it seems, didn't take even one breath during six solid hours of commercial-free on-air reportage yesterday. He and his wonderful team treated the unfolding story with the seriousness it deserved, but reported only what was known for sure, constantly referring back to how we know what we know, refraining from comment on anything but the facts at hand.
Did you notice there were no 'experts' brought in for 'analysis' of the events before the events were complete? Did you notice there was little 'naming' of the coverage? Few computer-generated sweeps of the shiny words, "Breaking news"? Did you notice Mansbridge himself was rarely seen in the coverage, nor were many of the reporters? It was radio coverage with pictures and video and reporters on the 'phone. At CTV, they, too, stuck to the story, not needing to reach conclusions about motive, not asking for speculation. Actually, both major Canadian networks eschewed speculation, which for anyone who has watched these things unfold so often in the US, was nearly as stunning as the events themselves. Some have called the coverage yesterday, "a masterclass" put on by our national public broadcaster, and they're right.