When my Joey was little, I made him a tiny photo album.
Becoming his favorite book, we flipped through it almost every day, taking in the birthdays, adventures at Summersville Lake and the priceless unforgettable others. With time it became smudged and weathered but he still peeks in every now and again.
These pages create slide shows of the arbitrary — leaving out the entire story. Through hundreds of photographs, the few made it into his picture book serving a slice of life.
One of my favorite college professors, Ralph Turner, taught ethics in media. His method to ascertain loyalty was constructing scenarios to force the vision to the other side. For example, a best friend living next door confides a secret — he is having an affair with his son’s teacher. The next year, announcing his race for mayor, he begs you to omit that detail from the story.
“Where is your loyalty?” Turner asked. “Is it to the job or to your friend?”
And so began the somewhat lonely road of choosing the job.
Turner also said the best invention of all time was the television. Imagine journalism before, with the cave wall, the radio and print the only resources.
Watching “The Waltons” doing this every evening, I have wished it was me. The ability to only hear the bits of information, while the wild imagination fills in the rest. And the gathering the activity brings — what wonderful togetherness while absorbing the details of the day.
Even still, those details were chosen — omitting parts of the story. It is impossible to gather everything, but decisions must be made, daily, of what makes it in.
On Jan. 13, 1928, RCA and GE installed three test television sets in Schenectady, New York, homes, allowing American inventor E.F.W. Alexanderson to demonstrate the first home television receiver. According to research, it delivered a poor and unsteady 1-1/2 square inch picture. Despite its criticism, the TV has truly changed everything.
Pulling a television into the classroom one evening, Turner showed a replay of the terrorist attack on the twin towers, Sept. 11, 2001. In horror, we watched the bodies falling to their deaths, who moments ago were working in their offices or sharing a witty story over coffee — remembering watching the screen while it was actually happening, and not realizing immediately what was falling.
Turning it off he asked the class, “Should this have been shown on TV?”
A heated discussion followed with folks disagreeing, while Turner looked on. He worked his magic getting us to think. What would you do? Had it been omitted from the news coverage, would it have been true?
We don’t make the news, folks, we report it, but it is impossible to contain everything in every story. Jan. 6 is a good example. Videos on TV and social media offering glimpses into parts of the details. Without watching it all from every angle, decisions and judgements are quickly made.
And again, heated discussions follow. While they can be ugly, within a certain reason they are required to ignite critical thinking. For that, we need each other.
Be intrepid — a leader in seeking the knowledge from every angle possible and then sharing — with everybody.
Working on my sight; and that is all.
News Editor Carolyn Harmon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-410-7058.