This was another tough week for the world. Between bombings and shootings, it’s one of those moments that’s difficult to process… Surrealism and cultural distortion are a day-to-day occurrences now. I first noticed the world shifting around me in the Summer of 2012. The CG Project was beginning its second year. It was the beginning of an idea that would lead to my Dual World photo series.
It’s tough to remember how we survived it but I preserved some of the emotions we shared over the last few years through something I called Chain Corpse, a combination Chain Letter and Exquisite Corpse. It was a way for me to connect with people I respect about issues that plagued us all. I hope that you find some value in them now that some time has passed.
Sandy – July 2012
A college freshman, I double majored in Journalism and English. Ever since I first heard Walter Cronkite address the nation, reliably, like a grandfather telling us what time it is, I wanted more than anything to be a foreign correspondent for a legitimate and well-respected news outlet, NPR or PBS. I was driven, personally, by the idealistic opportunity to make a difference in the world by ferreting out the truth…and thereby making a well informed populace more independent and mindful of the political, social, environmental, and economic choices that they made on a daily basis…. it was a youthful grasp at a hope that I ignorantly thought the rest of the world might desire. And once I got to college on a journalism scholarship, I fulfilled my rotation in the newsroom with gusto. At first, I loved and lived it. The atmosphere was hustling, hustle, hustle, and hustle. “Get the story, but get it clean” was the mantra even in our little campus newsroom. Wildly, I scribbled notes during poorly attended city council meetings, interviewed reluctant and even insulting city officials who thought “it was cute that such a little gal was so feisty” at trying to get to the bone of a story. Seriously, that was actually something that was said to me as I phoned the local police chief and interviewed him about why campus police needed brand new semi-automatic weapons on a small college campus in southern Illinois. This decision was voted upon during an especially austere economic juncture in the county and state. I didn’t know much about guns, he informed me. And I would be better off attending the Homecoming Parade and writing a great feature on the floats and frats, he added. My dismay was only outweighed by my paralyzing indignity.
I was not allowed to use that information in my story, and that was okay. The ethics by which I had studied journalism related that one does not reveal a source, does no harm, and protects sources at all costs. I realized that I could only relay what I was told. I was studying to be a very adept parrot.
Truth, huh? What is the truth? As the news machine begins its almost orgasmic response to the shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, I wonder how much of the truth will be exposed and how many people’s horrific losses will be used to boost ratings of what has become the 24 hour news monster, capable of disseminating at frighten speed, breaking news of a serial killer gone berserk, a rampage nonetheless that has left a 6 year old girl dead and her mother forever traumatized. They immediately dispatch their correspondents, interrupt previously scheduled programming, and use threatening graphics with intense music to capture the attention of a commercially zombiefied audience. This lets us know that the world has not ended, but we must drop everything to listen to this breaking story. (the more they do this, the less effective the shock factor is..even with something as horrible and mindless as this shooting).
Don’t get me wrong. This is a tragedy and one that pulls at my heart, makes me as a human, and as an American ask why? What had happened to this young man to make him conjure this in his mind? Who supplied him with these guns, canisters, and knives? What about those lives that were taken at such a universally vulnerable moment? (A darkened movie theatre, a collective womb of comfort and entertainment and Who else was effected? When will the populace be able to understand that owning a gun takes some regulation and responsibility and fucking restraint? How many tragedies must occur before our politicians speak beyond the perimeters of their fear of re-election?
These are the questions that demand answers and a revelation of truth. That is the real responsibility of journalists. Yet, our news organizations are failing us. They are sensationalizing the shit out of this, as are they are of every salacious news bit, and as are the ones who support the NRA.
Here’s where it gets interesting. I sent this entry to someone else who was gracious enough to respond, but before I post that mystery person’s piece of the puzzle, I’m giving you all a chance to respond to my piece. I’ll give you all this opportunity to contribute after each installment. Let see how this all plays out.