Thursday, September 01, 2005

There Are Days...

The insurance companies call it an "act of God." If only God could sue for slander.
Every day at work I am asked the same question at almost exactly the same time.

My boss, who sits four feet away from me, will turn around in his chair at around 8 a.m. and say, "So what should we be covering today?"

It's a question I'm ready's become an integral part of my job to think of "angles" remember anniversaries of big stories we should stay atune to upcoming issues, pop culture and trends and hopefully stay a little bit ahead of some of the other guys in reporting them. That's all that's involved.

I rarely write the stories any more although I may rewrite them.
I'm never sent out to cover the stories any more.
I simply supply the ideas and suggest the "angle" we should take or the reporter I think should tackle it.

I was asked that same question today....yesterday...the day before - and I'll be asked that question tomorrow.

But now I answer only one way, "We need to be talking more about Katrina."

The news business attracts, indulges and perhaps creates jaded personalities...we are good at shrugging off misery and containing tragedy with sound bites and synopsies. We are good at moving on.

But then there are days...

Days when you realize the story isn't going to go away or be marginalized. If my job is to determine what people are talking about and what people will be talking about...I can answer in one word: Katrina.

I'll rattle off angles - gas prices, skyrocketing construction costs, price gauging, coastal building trends, offers of aid, evacuee interviews...

But the story...the story is human suffering.

Suffering that is not going to fade or be forgotten.

These are wounds that will not heal. Many of the victims will live on but they will carry scars...we all will.

I've spiked 10 stories in the past week because there isn't room for them...they intrude on tragedy.

I've pocketed an investigative piece I've pushed for years which has finally come to fruition because unleashing it now means it would go unnoticed...rightly so. Compared to Katrina it's not a story at all.

My boss turned to me today and said, " What do you think? We hold that story for Tuesday?"

I smiled...and shook my head.

There are days...

Days when I know that the story has outgrown our attempts at planning.

Days when I know my obligation is only to repeatedly remind our listeners of every nuance of horror...and of hope.

There are days...when I know some things will never again be measured in days.

In truth perhaps this story beckons me because it has a face I can not minimize. Faces actually. Faces I have never seen in person, voices I have never heard, but people whom I have prayed for and who have prayed for Amy and myself - Fish and Crystal...their children. I know their story. I know their struggles.

They are family for all intents and purposes whom we have grown to know at a distance yet have journeyed with closely in an exploration of faith.

And they are suffering...

We try to think of ways to help. Amy and I are actively looking to open our home despite the bureaucrats and barriers. Our church members ask, "What can we do? Can we turn over our Sunday school building to a family or two?" Maybe, but there are protocols...there are liabilities to consider.

So we pray and remind ourselves that prayer can not be marginalized or spiked.

Prayer is a true "act of God".

"We are the body of Christ."

The Red Cross.