The Role of a Culture Journalist in a Disaster Zone
September 10, 2010
This morning I awoke to the headline news of an explosion caused by a ruptured gas line in San Bruno (just a few miles from where I live in San Francisco.) The explosion killed at least six people, injured many more and destroyed lots of homes.
In the grand scheme of things, this disaster is small when compared to the floods, tsunamis, famines and nuclear power plant radiation leaks that commonly make the news all over the world. But irrespective of the size of the event, the repercussions never fail to have a devastating effect on a community.
In the face of this, what's a culture journalist to do? My colleagues on the news desks of the local and national media were probably up all night reporting the story and continue to make sure that people are kept up to date. The local pub that I contribute to, The Bay Citizen, has been at the forefront of the charge. I am impressed by the organization's coverage of the blast so far.
But what's my role as a journalist in all of this? No one cares what an arts reporter/critic has to say about a gas pipe rupture.
I suppose ultimately, at this point in time, my role is not a professional one. It's simply to be a good citizen by helping people in need while keeping a professional eye on how the story unfolds down in San Bruno.
When the proverbial smoke clears, that's when I can actually start doing my job -- making sense of the event and how it impacts people's lives from a cultural perspective. But that's down the line.