08 May 2006

Big News Week

Mine supporters, injured daughters and dead reporters.
Australian news reports have been dominated by the Beaconsfield mine rescue for the last couple of weeks. It is without a doubt one of the most nail-biting, involving stories of recent history. But if there is one element of this incredible survival story that has escaped the attention of our television news departments, it's this: slowness.

I care about the two trapped miners and the families of everyone involved. I'm impressed by the rescue operation and its many facets. I'm moved by the stoic support of an entire town. I'm eager to see it all brought to a close. But if nothing happens in the thirty minutes since the last news update, shut up. I don't want to know about nothing. I certainly don't want an update on nothing twice an hour. It's a bit like sleeping, except it uses more electricity.

I suppose the entertaining part is the extent to which those poor, bored reporters will go to in order to fill up otherwise dead air with 'relevant' information. An interview with a paramedic who speculated that the miners might have muscle cramps when they stand up for the first time in two weeks. 'Investigative' reports suggesting that the initial rock fall may have been caused by mining activity. And my favourite - a demonstration of how hard the underground rock is by hitting a slab of it with a small hammer. Brilliant!

In other news, the incredible misfortune of Sophie Delezio was reported as the poor poppet was struck by a car and badly injured for the second time in three years. This is one of the few news stories that brought tears to my eyes, and I'm ashamed to say that I found myself actually wishing another child had been hit by a car instead of her. I mean, if it has to happen to someone, why not someone who hasn't spent the better part of her kindy years in hospital? I can't think about it for too long without shaking my head in disbelief.

Finally, the sudden death of Richard Carleton was shocking in its swiftness, but not surprising considering his medical history. The man himself had suggested he was living on borrowed time after a couple of bypass operations and a fling with prostate cancer. I wouldn't say he was one of my favourite journalists, and neither would a lot of Aussies, but he'll definitely leave a gaping hole in prime time journalism. May he go down in history, and may the caviar and quince paste flow freely at his memorial service.


  1. I think it's funny that you follow a comment about the lengths journalists will go to to make the mining story interesting with a report on Richard Carleton's death. He really showed 'em, didn't he?

  2. your mother11:01 am

    Another journalistic gem I heard on the TV yesterday, referring to some of the support personnel at the mine site: "Over the last two weeks they've worked 24 hours a day, and many nights..."