Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Scout—Still the Reporter

I have had a broad range of assignments for Small Town Newspaper lately. I wrote a story about the H1N1 vaccine, a story about the federal tax credit for making energy efficient improvements to your house, and a story about how a Christian college is opening a satellite campus at a local church. For that one, I had to call the pastor who tried to get away with giving me one-word answers. I hate that. Why do people do that when they know you need a story? Especially in this case when you're basically doing the guy a favor by plugging his church?

And then tonight, I covered a speech at the local branch of Kent State given by Kim Dozier, a CBS reporter who was severely injured in a car bombing in Baghdad. I thought she would be talking about her book about the experience, so I read what excerpts I could get my hands on (couldn't get the actual book), and I read reviews and articles and watched clips of interviews. I knew the story and had some questions of my own to ask.

I went to the auditorium this evening ready with my notebook in hand, but I never got even a moment with her alone. And she didn't even mention her book. She talked about her injuries and her recovery, and she talked about how the media and the public have gotten lazy and don't care to check facts anymore. They just want to lash out in anger and hatred, and this fierce division has gotten so out of hand.

She said good things, like "You can't control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to what happens—out of hope or out of fear."

But she didn't say the things I wanted her to say, things she has said in articles she's written or in recorded interviews. In a Newsweek article last year, she wrote, “I am a walking reminder of a war most of America seems to want to turn away from.” And she wrote about how we have to face this thing in Iraq with careful consideration because we'll leave a legacy there one way or another, and we'll be judged by that legacy. It's our choice. I had my pencil ready for when she said those things that I would love to use in my coverage of the event, but I never heard them. It's a pity.

Still, it was an interesting speech, and Dozier answered the audience's questions with skill. When someone asked what she thought about Obama's handling of Afghanistan, she said that it's a tug-of-war (no pun intended, although I do like a good pun now and then) between the general and the White House as it always is, and she danced around offering an opinion either way. And she made a point of talking about a friend in the military who was a brave and honorable soldier, but when she stood up to turn in a superior guilty of dealing drugs, it became known she was a lesbian, and now she has been discharged.

Afterwards, I stood in the lobby and chatted with a few friends, and I thought about how happy I am to have this newspaper gig. What's next, I wonder.

How about this—a soccer match on Sunday with Mexican and Guatemalan immigrants who have been playing a tournament all summer long. They've even got uniforms now, and they sell food field side. They'll determine the champion team this weekend, and I get to write about it.


debra said...

We have no idea of the true costs of these wars. How does one put a value on a pound of flesh? a future lost?

I hope you'll post about the soccer game.

Lynn said...

Getting people to say what you want is an art! Forming your questions with what, why, how, when, who, will help of course, as they can't just answer yes or no. If they do insist on one word though, 'why?' is always a good follow up. Pleased you have so much reporting to do! :)