Satirical news source The Onion summed up the past week well:
“Maybe next time we have a week, they can try not to pack it completely to the fucking brim with explosions, mutilations, death, manhunts, lies, weeping, and the utter uselessness of our political system,” said basically every person in America who isn’t comatose or a complete sociopath. “You know, maybe try to spread some of that total misery across the other 51 weeks in the year. Just a thought.”
Pal Justin texted this to me, halfway through this week from hell: “What does it say when a justice of the peace murdering a district attorney and his family is at the bottom of the news totem pole?” (I’m not even sure that story made it into our newscasts. Nor did the sentencing of the Travis County District Attorney for DWI. She’s serving 45 days in jail. Normally I would think that was a big story, too.)
Oh, and then, last night the week was capped off with a destructive earthquake in China:
“As Boston celebrated last night, the week from Hell managed to end with one more tragedy: A 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit southwestern China’s Sichuan province on Saturday. Right now, 156 people are said to be dead, and an estimated 5,500 are injured, making the earthquake the country’s worst in three years. We’re just hoping marathoner and West, Texas resident Joe Berti wasn’t around.”
Journalism and social media both got a reminder to just chill out and take a breath. Reddit sleuths went down as many bad trails as promising ones, implicating innocent people in the process. The New York Post was particularly egregious in its fact ignorance, reporting 12 people were killed on Monday and that a Saudi national was a suspect. (Neither of these reported “facts” proved true.)
Oh, and our newsroom was split into two buildings, producing our afternoon show, All Things Considered, from 1111 N. Capitol, and the morning program, Morning Edition, from 635 Massachusetts Ave. As tragedy struck blow after blow, we were struggling to coordinate news reporting and broadcasting while in between the final phases of our staff move. By Friday, the old building and its parts were getting dismantled around us. The moving and salvage crews outnumbered NPR staff. Yesterday, in the middle of our efforts to report a manhunt that shut down the city of Boston, the TVs got cut off. This prompted a move to 1111 half a day early.
President Obama called it a “tough week.” I’d call it a curl-up-in-fetal-position-and-rock-back-and-forth-week.
As you reflect and process and drink heavily (you deserve it), consider consuming any of the following:
- The Boston Globe.
- David Remnick wrote beautifully about the Boston bombings and the suspects we now know as the Brothers Tsarnaev. Only one of them lived to see the week’s end. “The sense of bland unknowingness—“He seemed so nice!”—began to evaporate the closer we got to the Tsarnaev brothers,” Remnick writes.
- Reeve Hamilton puts together a weekly playlist of music that evokes the mood and the news events of each week. This one he called “Hard Times.”
- My friend Brad Willis reflected on what eight year old boys know about peace and pain.
Your kids, your parents, your friends, your lovers: Hug ’em tight. Hug ’em tight.