Thursday, June 2, 2011

shameless promotion (2.0): June 2, 2011

Editor's note: In the ongoing effort of this blog to ... blah blah blah, you know what this. Comment if you have something to say.
Heroes from all over after storms

That the governor’s office issued a proclamation honoring someone or something is not such a huge story.

Government officials — and the governor’s office specifically — issue proclamations about various things all the time. Either they’re honoring someone for winning a medal, or pretending they’re an Auburn fan for an hour, or maybe declaring it Awareness Week for a disease.

So no, a gubernatorial proclamation isn’t all that notable.

But a proclamation honoring the media? That one’s pretty unusual.

It happened, though. Last Monday, at the state Capitol building, Gov. Robert Bentley signed a commendation “thanking members of the Alabama media for extensive coverage before, during, and after the tornado outbreak that recently moved through the state.” Media representatives were invited to come to the signing for photo opportunities.

Was it shameless pandering in an attempt to curry favor with the statewide press? Probably. During his visit to St. Clair County in the aftermath of the tornado, Bentley privately expressed his appreciation for “all the good work you people” in the press did.

In all honesty, it’s often difficult to cover a story like this, one where so much tragedy and heartbreak is occurring right in your own backyard. Take last week’s relief efforts: so much aid pouring in from other parts of the world, people taking initiative and pulling together resources, transportation … everything.

And us? Well, we’re taking their picture and telling their story. It feels like sort of a bad trade-off, really.

Six years ago this September, I recall all of us sitting in the newsroom watching the horrific images on national news following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The overwhelming feeling: helplessness. What could I, a broke sportswriter who was hundreds of miles away, do to help those in need?

This time around has been somewhat different. Still broke, the tragedy happened right in our backyard. And if there was one thing we, the media, can do, we can help get out the word.

Supplies are here. They need donations of this there. And if you want to volunteer, you should call here.

Much of that information came through our local Emergency Management Agency, which has been fanatical about making sure everyone understands the gravity of the situation in St. Clair County and the state.

Is that worthy of commendation? It doesn’t feel like it. We’re not carrying chainsaws or rescuing people from rubble; we’re just out here doing our jobs like we’re supposed to and spreading information.

It’s what we do. We can only hope it’s helpful to someone.

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