In my past life, I was a media junkie. Granted, working in media relations meant that it came with the territory, but I was happy I found a job that allowed me an excuse to read that many newspapers, trade journals and websites, not to mention watch countless hours of broadcast news programming. Monitoring media trends and auditing coverage of issues was fascinating to me. Working with former reporters and editors was an added bonus that has influenced my reading and writing to this day.
Unfortunately, news has taken a big back seat in my stay at home mom life. I’m lucky if I read the newspaper on Sunday, the only edition we actually subscribe to now. I catch a few minutes of the morning news on television and am typically horrified by the amount of royal wedding coverage that I end up turning it off right away. I see headlines through Twitter and Facebook and will occasionally click a link to read a whole story, although not as often as I would like. Most of my news is gathered from NPR headlines at the top of the hour during preschool pick up and All Things Considered while I’m cooking dinner.
Although I have a handle on the news environment, I am woefully uneducated on the details of an issue, the nuances of a story, the details of a disaster. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan were so devastating that I couldn’t bring myself to seek out information on them. In fact, I actively avoided coverage. I have, to this day, not watched a single frame of this terrifying footage. I know that I’m sticking my head in the sand, or rather burying my denial in the sweet smelling crooks of my children’s necks. I’m not proud of it, but have justified it to this point as simply a season in my life – that soon enough, I’ll be back to reading papers, engaging in national issues and educating myself on the latest discoveries/wars/debates.
And then I wake up one unsuspecting morning to the following conversation:
Hubby: “Did you see about those journalists killed in Libya?”
Me: “I saw something last night, but didn’t click on it.”
Hubby: “One of them was Dean’s brother.”
And there it is. Chris Hondros was one of the two journalists killed in Libya yesterday. Tim Hetherington was the other. I found myself immersed in this story, feeling the pain of my husband’s college friend now mourning his brother. I spent time looking through Chris’ compelling photographs, all from some of the most dangerous areas of the world, in awe at the emotion they capture.
It was then that I realized I can’t sit idly by anymore. Chris, Tim and thousands of other journalists risk their lives each and every day to bring a story to light. How dare I ignore the work they so dangerously dedicate their lives to? How can I NOT be engaged in these stories? Sure, Libya is a world away and seemingly doesn’t impact my day of preschool Easter parties and children’s dentist appointments. But don’t the mothers of the world deserve to feel annoyed that their children aren’t behaving at lunch, not worried that their sons are being killed fighting for what they believe in?
From now on, in memory of Chris, Tim and all the others who have perished to tell a story, I will pay more attention to the media world around me. I don’t mean the partisan blow hards that seem to fill up our television screens pitting neighbor against neighbor, but the real journalists who are researching, photographing and telling the hard stories that otherwise might not be told.
I ask that you all do the same. Take a moment. Read a story under the headline. Learn about something you didn’t know about yesterday. I’m not saying I’ll be throwing down a breakfast of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post like I used to, but taking a moment to read a story and engage with it for a few minutes, I think I can handle that.
Meanwhile, I’ll pray for the safe return home of Chris and Tim so that their families might begin the long process of learning to live their lives without these two extraordinary men.