Friday, June 18, 2010

Fire hoses and Watergate

It was another day of drinking from the fire hose…

And it sure would have been nice to have that fire hose dribble some cool H2O on me around two yesterday afternoon, after an hour of hanging around the downtown Phoenix bus and light rail transit hub with Malika and Kellie. Dang, it’s hot around here!!

The reaction of people to TV cameras and tape recorders has always amazed me. Folks are so accustomed to the ubiquitous presence of TV invading their lives that they are almost always more than happy to talk to anyone with a camera or microphone, regardless of who they are. These sweet Latino high school girls were a wonderful example – eager, bright-eyed, doing their best to come up with newsworthy sound bites, they were our most willing subjects. Practically leaping in front of the camera, they flashed their smiles, tossed their hair and jostled one another to be the next one to “be on TV tonight.”

It’s a far cry from the downright reticence of newsmakers and people on the street when I began reporting for radio waaaay back in 1973 as a college student. When All the President’s Men came out in 1976 (the bicentennial year, an irony that escaped no one), we watched it, rapt and by then totally familiar with the names, headlines, and excruciating process Woodstein followed to crack their story. We had long conversations deep into the night at the Country Kitchen, our hangout after city council and school board meetings, analyzing it from every angle, including why Pakula chose to not show Nixon’s actual resignation. Our conclusion: the event was too raw in the nation’s collective memory, and showing it would have been unnecessary sensationalism. Would that stop a producer today? Hmmmm…

I’ve seen the movie many times since and will be showing it to my students when I start teaching journalism next year. But watching it in the Cronkite Theatre at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication with dozens of like-minded journalism teachers was special.
Leslie Wolfe-Cundiff
Centennial H.S.
Roswell, Ga.

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