Do you need a burst of spring while winter swipes at us for a few more weeks? Visitors from the Philadelphia region and from around the world visit during the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show. The scent of fresh-grown flowers and the potpourri of color is always a reminder that spring is less than three weeks away. Granted, the winter months here have been kind to us in the Philadelphia region. For those who are buried under feet of snow and ice, please enjoy just a tiny piece of this year’s show with a theme from the Brits – “Brilliant.”
News is an event or issue happening in your world that affects many people. At least that’s what I thought was news – and what I was taught was news back in the day. I suppose I became old school because I still believe news should be something many people can care about or something that many people should know about. Issues and happenings that are significant in many people’s lives.
Now, it seems news is what happens to someone’s cat – or dog – or happy baby or on a dash-cam. Since news organizations have cut staffs to the bone, there are fewer and fewer stories – especially locally that affect people’s lives. At least on TV news, much of the time is spent telling you about celebrity news, what will be on that TV station tonight (almost always entertainment) and what fantastic video has shown up on You Tube or via some other internet channel.
NBC News today has broadcast dash-cam video from a New Jersey transit bus versus school. whatever happened to the immediacy of news? Yes, the video was probably just released but the only reason the video is ‘news’ today is that NBC or any other news organization has found it. You know the saying “it’s like watching a train wreck?” Well, that is what this and all other video like it is all about. We are human, we can’t stop watching train wrecks. That’s why the Kardashians and Lindsey Lohan and any other bad boy/girl celebrity gets so much coverage.
News organizations used to be leaders. The hard-working staffs (still today) work like the dickens to write, produce, record news that the bosses tell them to put together. Many of the news stories are credible and interesting to a vast majority of people. But the tide turned about 20 years ago with the influx of infotainment programming. Now with instant news coverage and the pressure to get the pictures quickly, there is a lot of nonsense in news.
Len Berman used to do a TV sports segment that was hilarious; he showed all kinds of sports video of amazing shots, sports bloopers and such. He always had one crazy shot with people and things colliding and he would exclaim, “And nobody got hurt.” For a morning TV show, that was enough fun and games. It was a break from reality. Now it seems, the news reality is showing the insipid video from some child’s birthday party or something carved directly from You Tube.
KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia still does the news straight. No antics; perhaps a little too much jingle music AND they still have that crazy old-fashioned ticker. On that station, I get the news. Yes, there’s NPR and they do an honorable, creative and credible job, but for several reasons, I don’t listen often.
For now, the OFF button is where I go when the news is all about nothing that affects my life – or the lives around me. I’ll still watch, read and listen, but enough with the baby-cat-bus crash video.
Do you wonder every day where the time goes? You look forward to days off, vacations, family & friend events. You celebrate every occasion and holiday. You hug friends and family. But is it ever really enough? Do we ever really have enough time to appreciate our lives and what we have?
While I have not worked at KYW Newsradio since the end of 2000, I have remained friends with many of my former colleagues. We talk, have a lunch, share an email and from a distance, I have appreciated the people who I spent 15 years of my life with. In the past year, sadness has struck that newsroom in a profound way. I cannot imagine what it has been like to cover news on a day-to-day basis and experience behind the scenes what has been going on in that news family. Two former colleagues lost their spouses. One of those colleagues also lost her mother within a day of losing her husband; the other had recently lost his brother before his wife died. Another former colleague died of cancer. Then this week, two former Newsradio colleagues died in the same week. Karin Phillips at the age of 53 and last night, Jack O’Rourke at the age of 80.
The death of Jack has sealed in me a sadness that is one of those defining moments: I am getting older. Yes, Jack was 80, but he had no intention of retiring. He loved the Phillies. He covered them with a reporter’s enthusiasm. Jack did the stories straight, but you can’t cover a sport for as long as Jack has without loving the game. I was at a game in late June. Our seats in the Hall of Fame Club led us to walk just under the press box that night. I looked up at the box and saw Jack. I yelled to him. He popped right over to the open area and leaned down to grab my hand. We held hands for a bit while we talked about how we were doing. He was glad to see me with my husband. When Jack would ask, “How are you doing?” – he really wanted to know. Jack cared about people. There have always been stories from Jack about his children and grandchildren. He has great-grandchildren now. How they will miss their pop-pop.
Jack was a consummate professional. He hated it when people used foul language. Frankly, a news room can be a room filled with toilet mouths. Jack would toss a disapproving look toward people who used foul language. He was always a class act.
Last night in my section 134 seats at the ball park, a foul ball floated up toward the press box. My eye left the ball because I spotted Jack at his post. He was standing at that particular moment. I thought at the time how I admired him for loving his job – and the game – so much to be sticking with his job for so long.
I remember asking him that June night if he’d be working down at spring training one more season. He shrugged. I know he’ll be in that Field of Dreams – reporting on the balls and strikes; the wins and losses. We have lost a great soul – If that Field of Dreams in Iowa is heaven – I know Jack is there.