Local News

Springer Journal: What is the Norm ... What is the Exception?

Posted July 2, 2005

— Just prior to hitting my keyboard for this article, I was scanning the award winning WRAL- TV5 website. As I reviewed the listing of local news items, I found these articles:

Police Arrest Raleigh Woman in Connection to Greenway Shooting Death

Raleigh Woman Fends Off Would-Be Attacker

Wayne County Man Kills 14 Year Old Stepdaughter

Man Accused of Killing Durham Store Clerk Indicted

Grand Jury Indicts Chapel Hill Teen Accused of Killing Parents

Is our area that insecure? Are we all threatened daily by criminals, thugs and murderers? Should we consider moving from the area because of all this crime? Or rather are these stories representative of the "exceptions" to other news stories that could be cited? The five stories headlined above certainly represent the exception.

The young man helping an elderly lady across the street simply isn't news. The good Samaritan stopping along the roadway to fix another person's flat tire isn't news. The medical teams at our local hospitals perform near miracles each and every day. These things happen daily across our region. We seldom see them highlighted in the news. Why? Because they are more the norm than the exception in our lives.

Reflect for a moment on those who we look to for our safety and well being: the police and firefighters. They constantly put their lives on the line to protect us and our way of life. We don't hear much about them EXCEPT when they are killed or wounded in the line of duty. Then, we grieve for them and their families.

Now then let us think for a moment about the Global War on Terror and more specifically about our war in Iraq. If we only know what we hear on TV or radio, or what we see in the print media, it is easy to assume "the sky is falling." Then we hear politicians and pundits throwing around words like quagmire ... losing ... no strategy ... timelines for leaving ... and so on.

What do we really learn from our news sources? We learn of the exceptions! We hear of the roadside bombs exploding and we hear of the suicide killers who kill innocent bystanders as well as our coalition forces. We hear of some of the newly trained Iraqi security forces deserting their posts. We learn of the sabotaged oil well or pipeline.

As I noted above we place our trust in our domestic police and firefighters. We only hear about their significant contributions to our society when they are killed or wounded. The same might be said for our military men and women. Almost daily we hear that another soldier or marine or maybe several soldiers and marines were killed in Iraq. We grieve for them and their families just as we do for our first responders here at home.

We hear of the exceptions. We do not read or see very much about the schools that are now functioning ... the hospitals that are caring for the sick (often with the help of our military doctors, nurses and med-techs) ... the free press as represented by some 170 newspapers as well as independent radio and TV. The reconstruction of the Iraqi infrastructure is an on-going news story that now simply is more the norm in that country than the exception.

The privileges of a newly emerging democratic society which provides freedoms for a formerly repressed citizenry are enjoyed daily in Iraq. We should all be aware of the freedoms which range from simple things like the freedom to possess a satellite dish to the more fundamental right for women to participate fully in the democratic process. But these items apparently are not newsworthy. Democracy and independence are powerful forces in the world.

As we here in America celebrate our democratic way of life and our independence on the 4th of July, we should be exceptionally proud not only of our own independence, but also of the independence our military forces have helped to provide to some 25 million people in Afghanistan, and another 25 million people in Iraq.

Just as our independence was not secured quickly, easily or without considerable loss of life, neither should we expect it to be quick, easy or casualty free in other nations which are being born anew after spending decades never having known democracy.

When we log on to the web ... watch our news on TV ... or read a newspaper or magazine we should always remember the media's job is to bring us "news." The news may not be the norm; rather the news may more frequently be the exceptions that occur in our society or in our world.

There is much good happening daily in Iraq. It hurts me to know that most citizens simply are not provided with the total picture. I am convinced that if the totality of the conflict and the pursuit of democracy were better understood by our citizenry ... and if politics could be set aside in the discussion ... most of us would better appreciate the significant contributions our military men and women are making towards a better and freer world. God Bless them all!

Have a meaningful Independence Day.

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