Saturday, April 7, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: In the News

Although what I read has long faded away from my memory, I quite sharply recall the act of reading the newspaper as a child. It was a lifelong habit started as an 8-year-old kid scrambling to get hold of the comics on a Sunday. The Washington Post’s comics, not to mention the effect of Silly Putty on comics and photos, was what lured me into the act of picking up a paper and reading.

Fast forward a decade, and I’m in college, majoring in journalism. I join the paper as a reporter. I remember one of my first reviews, co-written with a woman named Joan Dunn. We saw the theatre department's "Stop the World - I Want to Get Off." We were suitably unimpressed and ticked off quite a few with our pithy headline "Stop the Play - I Want to Get Out." Ah, the power of the press.

I stayed with the Rider News through college. I even got the coveted Trenton Times paid gig, writing obituaries. But when I graduated, I didn't go into journalism as a career. There were a lot of reasons for that, none of them having to do with journalism itself. In fact, I've always held reporters in high esteem. I look at them as I look at teachers: they have a passion for what they do. They have to. Regular people can't do jobs like that.

Ironically, a number of years later, I ended up at The San Francisco Chronicle and spent 10 years there, leaving about a year ago. I was the media and public relations director, and I got to work with the most amazing reporters and editors. [I got to work with plenty of assholes, too, mind you. They really are everywhere in the world.] For a newspaper junkie like me, it was heaven to be involved in the business that closely, to be there as news happened, to know about breaking news almost immediately.

And then something happened to me and my love affair with news. My need for news, my desire for news, my mania for knowing everything that was going on? It vanished.

I told the news world, “It’s not you, honey. It’s me.” I said to it, “People change. I’ve changed.”

When it asked me if there was someone else, I lied. “No. Never. I swear to you,” I said.

“Who is it? I want to know who has come between us,” news demanded.

I’ve refused to tell. Until now. It’s not just one person. It’s three. It’s my children who stop me from wanting to know the latest horrible deed committed by one person against another, by one people against another, by one gang against another.

I can no longer take knowing about the Susan Smiths, the Andrea Yateses, the Lashaun Harrises. I can’t bear the latest casualties in any conflict. I can’t.

I’m sorry, news. Maybe I’ll be back when they’re a lot older, when I no longer feel this pervasive need to shield them from horror and my own mind from wondering, “What if that were my son? My daughter? Their father?” Maybe I’ll be back then. Maybe not. Something tells me you'll go on whether I'm here or not.

[If you want to read others' tackle the prompt "In the News," head on over to Sunday Scribblings."]


Unknown said...

I love the conversation that you had with the news world when you had your change of heart.
Great story!

AJ said...

I know what you mean by the news. I try not to read it on the internet, but I do. I try not to hear ot on the radio, but I do. I totally avoid television news and I very seldomly pick up a news paper anymore. The nature of the news is a horrible reality in our society.

Misplaced said...

I'm embarrassed to say that I, too, can no longer take it. I can no loner read about it- it isn't apathy so much as it is self preservation. Continiously reading about evil has got to effect us on a spitual level- I'm no longer interested in 24/7 access to the world.

I'm enjoying your blog- I found it today.

Anonymous said...

Great post, loved it. Scary how those questions pop up.

gautami tripathy said...

Sometimes ignorance is bliss. It is not apathy as such. My post actually covers one such aspect which we want to brush it under the carpet.

Papa's little girl

megan said...

Enjoyed reading your post. Sounds like you listened to your own voice about what works for you...and what doesn't. A good example for your children. Applause.

Lucy said...

It scares me too... to know what world our children are living in. Just thumb through till the puzzle page.
Good "relationship " comparison. Nice post!

Jen B said...

I think your family is a good reason not to get depressed with the news. Just don't wait too long to find out what's going on the world! You might miss

Anonymous said...

Silly putty on the comics — I had completely forgotten! Now I'm off to get some silly putty...

Yes, the news will go on. And I completely understand your "break-up" with it -- looking at the world through a mother's changes everything. (I no longer watch the TV news, though I have to read it --- and often write about it --- for work.)

Anonymous said...

Oops --- In the comment I just posted, it should be "mother's EYES" --- I left out the EYES part!

Jone said...

I did the silly putty on the comics, until I put silly putty through the screen in my window. No more for me. Great take on the prompt. I hope you get plenty of choclate today.

deedee said...

Since having children, my need to know has certainly diminished, too.

Hey, I remember silly putty and sunday comics, that was fun. I wonder if kids still do that?


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