Thursday, October 29, 2015

'Oh, the humanity!'

Radio announcer Herb Morrison's anguished reaction to the 1937 crash of the airship, Hindenburg, came to mind with the news of a much less tragic lighter-than-air disaster this week.

An unmanned Army blimp broke loose from its mooring in Maryland and floated into Pennsylvania where it crashed in the woods, with no injury to anyone on the ground. Nor were there any accident reports involving the TV crews racing to capture the unfolding odyssey for the evening news.

Remembering Morrison's meltdown made me think of an NPR newscast some time ago in which an NPR foreign correspondent was reporting from one of the many disaster areas around the world. At one point he referred to a nearby child who was in extreme distress. He hesitated obviously affected by the scene confronting him. "Take your time," the NPR anchor said quietly and for a moment all the listener heard was the ambient chaos on the ground. Unlike Morrison, the correspondent resumed his report in his customary reporter's manner.

Perhaps nothing could have made the situation so vivid as this very human response to a very human tragedy. It also revealed the amazing discipline required in a truly professional journalist.

Oh, the humanity.