Monday, February 6, 2012

Seeing and Not Seeing: Behind the Good Stories

A glance at today's headlines shows what reporters are noticing about presidential candidates, housing foreclosures, whistleblowers and even who wore what to the Super Bowl. A reporter's job, of course, is to be the eyes of those people who are not hearing the candidates debate, who cannot sit in on a congressional hearing or couldn't come close to affording the tickets to the big game. I'm grateful for the more astute reporters, those who observe with their senses, scribble them in their notebooks and translate the details for those of us who aren't front and center at history's first draft.

But often there is much that isn't in a story. When I read, for instance, of the recent riots at a soccer match in Egypt that killed 74 people, it was a friend who works with coaches there that helped me know something was missing: some Egyptian coaches felt they hadn't done enough to help young people understand the ethics of sport. They took some responsibility for the tragedy.

Or when a reporter friend sent me a link to a story about the paintings, safes and jewelry now at the bottom of the sea because of the cruise ship disaster in Greece, he reminded me again of the hidden parts of every story. Most passengers lost more than a holiday—they lost heirlooms that have a story of their own. And who knows what stories will come from those who go in search of them?

The Catholic southern novelist Flannery O'Connor once quipped that, "The writer never has to apologize for staring. There is nothing that doesn't require his attention." Staring at what is seen—and not seen—is at the heart of good journalism.

No comments:

Post a Comment