Thursday, July 06, 2017

Confessions of a News Junkie: Where does inspiration come from?

I’m addicted to CNN’s Headline News. I swore off it after they botched the election predictions so badly (and let me relax), but like every junkie worth his salt, I lasted only a couple weeks. Now I’m checking my CNN app constantly and watching Headline News daily.

If you live in the US right now, keeping up with the political landscape on the news is not just a form of entertainment (and you thought Americans needed House of Cards for that!), it’s damn scary (but a little like watching a slow-motion car crash, too). A daily (sometimes hourly) refrain of Is this really happening?

But I also find the news to be a source of inspiration. Primarily for the questions constantly raised: What would it be like to walk in that person’s shoes?

Some story ideas from recent news items:

What would it be like to be the mother of a famous killer? The Aaron Hernandez trial and suicide fascinates me. And everyone’s mother loves them, after all. Sports Illustrated did a great long-form article on Hernandez's brother, showing how the murder conviction changed his life, but the mother has been silent (for what are probably obvious reasons). Yet she has my sympathy. In a world where media coverage shows her son in one light, she, of course, sees him differently. What would she say? What would she think? How would she move on? It’s a story I’d like to write, probably a short piece.

What would it be like to be both a good police officer and a minority teen who doesn’t trust him or her? In Northhampton, Massachusetts, about 30 minutes from my home, the local police department tried to institute a program where officers would visit area schools each Friday to greet students as they entered the building. They called it “High-Five Fridays.” This was a gesture to build community relations. However, after parents raised concerns that minority students or immigrants might feel threatened, the program was disbanded. It made me think about the plight of a law-enforcement officer, especially the small-town cop. Much like the Catholic priests, the public perception has changed. What would the minority student be thinking looking at the cop offering a high-five? An interesting point-of-view for the story.

As you can probably tell, I don’t subscribe to Trump’s “fake news” theories. Regardless, I’d rather take a real story and put my own spin on it. I’d love to hear about the ones I’m overlooking. Send them my way!


Rick Blechta said...

In the first paragraph of recent examples, I do have some idea of what the mother of a killer would feel. A childhood friend of mine is the parent (father) of one, and in a word, being in that situation was/is horrendous. I do not want to share any specifics of the case but the son was definitely guilty and will be incarcerated for the rest of his life. They are still living where they always have, so you know day-to-day, they still have to deal with fallout. Yet they have not faltered, still love their son and just try to cope. I don't know what happens behind closed doors, but I think of them almost weekly with great sadness.

Murder is such a horrible crime, and the fallout from it is widespread. I would not want to have to deal with what my friends are.

Charlotte Hinger said...

I've always been a news junkie, but honestly, the state of America is so scary that I don't have the stomach for it.