Monday, October 13, 2008

One of Us

It's a tough day for Houston's news media. We've lost one of our own. ABC 13's news chopper crashed about an hour ago. The pilot and photographer are dead. They haven't released their names yet. It's a sickening feeling for those of us in the media. That photographer was probably someone I knew. I've probably laughed and joked with him at various press conferences. Even if I didn't know that photographer very well, he was a colleague. The news business is a small world and there's a certain camaraderie that comes from being in this exclusive, strange club.

It's sobering to report the news when the news actually comes from within our own ranks. And it's hard to think about our friends over at Channel 13, who are having to report on their own tragedy.

And it's a grim reminder that our jobs are often more dangerous than we think. We're called upon to go into risky and sometimes life-threatening situations. That pilot and photographer were performing what, for them, is a normal day on the job. But tonight they won't get to clock out and go home to their families. They won't eat a meal with friends, or fall asleep in front of the TV. And the reality is most of Houston will forget about them.

So next time you turn on the news, or tune into the radio, think about what it may have cost for you to be able to see that report from a war zone or hear that update from high above the city. And next time you criticize the media for all their failures, ineptitude and idiocies, remember that you are blessed to live in a country where the media is free to mess things up, to make mistakes, to cover controversial subjects, to critique our politicians without fear of retribution and to willingly go into places and environments that you never could or would enter.

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