If not for oil spill, who’d be in news?

Published 9:22 pm Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sometimes I worry about what news we are missing.

By “we” I mean “us,” the local media and “us,” the consumers of national news.

First, I always wonder what story might be happening in our coverage area that we haven’t heard about. People sometimes make the assumption that we know about things and don’t call or email us to tip us on stories. They then come to the conclusion that we’ve snubbed them or their event. We never want that to happen, but sometimes it’s beyond our control. And it’s one of the random things that tap dances across my worry parade every so often.

But mostly I think about it in a larger sense. When a national news story demands center stage, what news stories are overlooked because they are less sensational, less interesting, or just plain harder to get?

The first time I really started to consider this was during the Clinton/Lewinsky news coverage when a specific story that interested me got virtually no play.

Again, after Sept. 11, 2001, I wondered about all the stories we would have been reading or viewing if the tragic events of that day hadn’t dominated the national psyche and news cycle for weeks.

Hurricane Katrina is the next event that comes to mind; and now the Gulf oil spill is dominating the news. Yesterday, the Associated Press had 13 stories about the oil spill. If it hadn’t happened, I wondered, what would the AP, CNN, MSNBC and FOX be reporting?

In Alabama, for a week or so, both the oil spill and Tim James’ possible election contest dominated state coverage for about 10 days; now, it’s back to oil, sensationalized now by the possibility of a tropical storm moving into the Gulf.

Still, I wonder if someone who has committed a wrong got a reprieve because his or her crime wasn’t as interesting as the oil saga; if positive things aren’t getting the coverage they deserve and giving us the mental lift we need in light of the bad news bombarding us.

Finding the right balance is difficult, but today’s big stories make it ever- so-pleasant to go next door to the library’s pirate contest; to the LAAC for art camp photos; to Vacation Bible School; or to write about fresh produce coming in.

We count on you, our readers and the folks about whom we write, to make sure we aren’t missing local stories in times like these.

Call us at 222-2402; email us; or use the handy news tip form on our Web site.