Monday, November 16, 2015

1555 Covering Paris

1555 Covering Paris

Can we stop being stupid, just for a moment?  Probably, but not for sure.  The “we” is the news community.  It is not beyond hope. But close.

When the attacks happened on a mild autumn evening in Paris, in a soccer stadium where a friendly rivalry was in play, in a concert hall where a band from California was making the noise that passes today for music and in the little cafes and bars that underpin the romantic and poetic myth that is Paris, we the coverers got our collective head out of the trivia that today passes for news.

Suddenly, your TV set and your newspaper forgot about college protesters in Missouri and New Haven. It forgot about Cosby, the Kardashians, the red carpets and the kindergarten for the criminally insane that passes for the current political climate.

In the big newsrooms of New York, Atlanta and Washington, the cry went up “call the Paris Bureau.”  This was immediately followed by the counter-cry “we don’t have one of those anymore.”

So the biggest story in Paris since its liberation in 1944 had to be covered by a patchwork of rusty old timers and greenhorn youngsters and random people with cellphone cameras.

Few reporters now on the scene know what the city smells like. Fewer still can give you walking directions from the Eiffel Tower to the low-rent 18th district or tell you when the garbage is picked up or recognize the sound of a Renault horn.

In fairness, not much happens in Paris that commands the attention of American newsies. But the January attacks on Charlie Hebdo might have warned us to keep an eye on things over there. Especially now that Syrian refugees are streaming into Europe and no doubt at least some of them are not your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Would ISIS use the immigration to hide attackers? Perish the thought.

First reports are almost always wrong.  Figures change. Rumors and facts gather in the same blender.

The news troops on the ground or heading for it can be excused for getting caught in the undertow of error. Temporarily.

So now, some days into the coverage, how are we doing?

The only truly  indispensable news outlets in the country, the Associated Press and the New York Times, covered Paris like sharks on blood. Once they got there.

The NBC ex-pats at CNN and CBS managed, too. CBS was concentrating on its Saturday debate and lagged. Fox filled its airtime with the usual collection of hairdos and short skirts.

Now comes the why. Why Paris? Because when you hate pleasure, there are only two places worthy of attacking in jealousy or envy or self righteousness. And Vegas is too far.

Shrapnel:

--Watching the Dems debate Saturday night was a money saver for many. It was a brilliant substitute for Sominex and Lunesta.  And certainly not habit forming.

--It had to happen. Ronda Rousey finally lost a professional fight.  You knew she was in trouble when it went on long enough to have a second round. Holly Holm KOed the previously undefeated Rousey and claimed the UFC championship, if only temporarily.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com

© WJR 2015

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