As surreal as it may seem, a man and his pistol saw to it that little ’ol Tyrone became the focus of the world for a while for all the wrong reasons.
Like or not, me and a couple of my cohorts at your local news source have since had to spend many hours focusing on Joe Aldridge’s stunning actions. I think I speak for everyone when I say it’s not the kind of thing anyone around these parts could ever have imagined being on the front-page of the local weekly (much less the home page of NBC.com), and we’ll never be able to put it entirely out of our memory banks.
But we can and will move on (because that’s all we can do) and that will be nice.
I’ve seen and heard a lot since Joe Aldridge gained permanent infamy last Friday – so much that at it at times has been hard to sort things out and even to simply process the moment. So many layers, so many side notes, so many results, ramifications and effects.
Some of the information and feedback I’ve absorbed during this unforeseen, undesirable trek has consisted of critiques of the way news sources deal these days with violent, fatal events. I’ve heard people express positive and negative viewpoints, and I completely understand both.
One thing I find particularly interesting is the notion that media “fuels the fire” by dedicating significant coverage to the actions of the likes of Joe Aldridge, and that maybe the next Joe Aldridge becomes such out of a twisted yearn for being emboldened on TV screens and newspaper pages. I think there is probably some merit to that concept, but I think the state of violence in today’s world has less to do with lost souls seeking a macabre place in history than it does unavoidable, unstoppable deterioration of mankind’s glass house, as is well documented in the Bible.
People care less and less about the welfare of others and about God’s will, and what’s happening (or more accurately not happening) inside the walls of homes from Maine to California and from South Africa to Sweden prevents young people from growing up with a true understanding of right and wrong.
I do, however, agree with the idea that the American media in general is guilty of following the same path as the rest of society, and there is a lot of shoddy work presented as “good” these days on TV newscasts and on newspaper pages. Surely, some bigger media sources even lean toward an unwritten, unspoken policy of embellishing and sensationalizing.
It’s a shame, but I feel good about the way the Houston Herald dealt with Texas County’s darkest hour, and I submit that what we do is as straight forward and transparent as we can make it, and is never designed to “sell papers” in sacrifice of good journalism.
We dig deep to provide valuable information in news and feature articles, and my opinion-oriented columns come straight from the heart, and when content seems sensational or dramatic, that’s because it’s nature (and it’s reality) steers it that way.
What is, is and there’s no getting around it. With that in mind, we try to present what is to the best of our ability.
With regard to the situation in Tyrone, people badly wanted as much information as they could get about it as quickly as they could get it, so we were only doing our jobs by posting update after update on the Herald website. In case there is any doubt people were hugely interested, consider that this past Monday morning, the main (ever-growing) “Tyrone tragedies” story had been viewed close to 250,000 times (a quarter million!). Also consider that it’s unusual for a story on the site to eclipse the five-figure mark (let alone six), and a No. 1 story for an entire year might have about five to maybe 10 percent as many looks as this online juggernaut has already accumulated.
That’s, well, I’m not sure what that is other than phenomenal.
Anyway, as someone who has lived for extended periods in many corners of the U.S. (California, Washington and Georgia, to be specific), I wouldn’t want to be anywhere other than Texas County. While the world is in a permanent downward spiral, at least this place is arriving late for the party and there is still a lot of good here to be immersed in.
The Bible tells us every man has an appointed number of days to live, as determined by God (Job 14:5). All we can do is live each day knowing His will precludes ours (even when it comes to “survival”), and be glad for each and every day and each and every circumstance (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
So now we pick up and press on, just as the survivors of far greater calamities have always done. Because that’s all there is to do.
Because life goes on – God willing.
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: email@example.com.