Re: Covering Tragedy


I'm sorry, I'm drunk today, and sad. I opened the door and it caught on the spent bullet lying on the floor; I could face the hole it left in my wall, and prided myself on that; but I did nothing for the dried blood on the side off the toilet bowl, and never could, and averted my eyes for however many days or weeks it was until my mother, she of iron and baked brick, cleaned it away.

Posted by: Adamastor | Link to this comment | 04-22-19 8:21 AM
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Also, "tragic"? I never bought it. Everyone's mediocre. So our deaths, so our murders. There aren't any tragedies, just fuckups.

Posted by: Adamastor | Link to this comment | 04-22-19 8:53 AM
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2: It's possible people use the words "tragic" and "tragedy" to mean something different from a tragedy as defined by Aristotle.

Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-22-19 9:01 AM
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Possible. I've been here a while.

Posted by: Adamastor | Link to this comment | 04-22-19 9:13 AM
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4: Are you "going Presidential" or in this case "going Mythological"? Anyway, I don't understand 1 but it sounds bad, so please accept my sympathy.

Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-22-19 9:24 AM
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Thank you, peep. I don;t understand this floodplain alluvium thing, but it sounds nice.

Posted by: Adamastor | Link to this comment | 04-22-19 10:05 AM
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I have felt in the past to be drowning in all the blood and futility of the things I studied, Soviet and Nazi; in truth I could never distinguish those atrocities from my own mediocre failures, but the question for me remains. I believe I was bound in the end to fail, and that miserably; and yet, I would salve myself, say, "How could any blame me? How could any look at this and not despair?"

Posted by: Adamastor | Link to this comment | 04-22-19 10:20 AM
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That was a well written article, and not a super long one. It's nice to see journalists thinking about the burdens they're inflicting in getting the messages out.

Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 04-22-19 4:30 PM
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I'm surprised at the parent who prefers live appearances to print for better control of the message. I guess it shows how hard it is to control one's image or message in the first place.

Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04-22-19 6:58 PM
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In the midst of too many things to think about and plan and execute and "follow up," my thoughts keep circling back to the pen pal I got assigned by a pen pal service -- the kind of service that advertised in kids' magazines at the school library, maybe as a sidebar to an article about Esperanto -- in Sri Lanka, to whom I was to write care of the Sacred Heart Convent School. In its typewritten matching letter, the service helpfully gave me a salutation in Sinhalese to use. I got one letter and one Christmas card, and that was it. The pen pal had a Portuguese surname and she must have been fairly well-off, I thought, when I came upon the letter many years later and took a moment to admire its beautiful stamps and soberly assay its contents, doubly foreign now, in the realms of childhood and history. How much more I've now learned about linguistics and colonialism! How much more I've learned about people never writing you back! I hope she's better than well.

Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 04-22-19 10:18 PM
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9: It surprised me too, when I read it, but it makes sense. If you're live, whatever you say is heard -- you can bail on the interview if it veers in a disgusting direction, work the conversation around to what you're trying to say, or even cut across the interviewer's questions with something sharp, like: "I hear you asking my about [petty thing X] -- why won't you engage with [my big issue Y]?" Hopefully that exchange gets things moving in a better direction.

I suspect that they discuss the contours of the interview before the on-air interview -- so they know that what they say will be squeezed into a 5 minute slot or whatever, even when it's not live. You know that they'll cherry pick, but if they don't have a wealth of material and they want it to sound like an interview, they can't avoid using much of what you discuss.

For the print piece, given the duration of the interview experience [especially for the live with us for a week style], it sounds like you're trusting the journalist to take a lot of material and condense it. Given the extent of the shared experience, most of it will be on the cutting room floor, leaving the journalist a lot of leeway to stitch together whatever they want and still be reporting honestly. (After all, it's not an 84 hour documentary -- a lot is going to be condensed or ignored to be create a comprehensible article or series.)

Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 04-23-19 8:14 AM
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the tug of war between hope and despair, and that these families still have it in them to want to keep the hope alive bc that's our only way to imagine effective policy change - wow, that was a gut wrenching thing for me.

and also i found the line about preferring live interviews interesting. my experience (limited) is that yes they give you some idea of the time and other constraints before "go."

Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-23-19 9:34 AM
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11: this is a strategy Bob Crow was keen on as RMT leader (JC does it too). They may not like you but it's an opportunity to speak directly to the audience. 1x1 interviews also better than panels as moderator can't dick about with you.

Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04-23-19 10:37 AM
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There are a lot of obvious reasons to want to disintermediate journalists. Hillary's biggest successes -- the convention, the debates -- were on largely unedited television. Trump has successfully weaponized Twitter.

The Sandy Hook families likewise have a message they want to get out, but they often require assistance from the journalists themselves.

I've been on both ends of this - knocking on the door of the dead child's family; doing media interviews because my family was involved in a situation and I had an agenda.

I can promise you that journalists think very hard about this stuff. It's not something most of them do casually. But human beings have different objectives, and conflicts are inevitable.

Posted by: Millard Fillmore | Link to this comment | 04-24-19 6:42 AM
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14.3: I know someone had to do it, but I'm glad it isn't me and, probably, so are the ones who have to open the door.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-19 7:03 AM
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Huh, I missed 14 until just now.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-28-19 9:08 AM
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