The headlines of our lives


by Phil Jacobs
Executive Editor

Our summer Rehoboth Beach rental comes with cable TV.

Who watches TV when the beach summons?

A news junkie, that’s who. Yes, I am one.

Much to the anger of my family I delayed the sand and SPF 30 because I was unable to get away from the news a few summers ago. Then, networks were covering as best they could the bloody events on the Iranian street.

Courageous Iranians were placing their lives on the line in June 2009 to demonstrate their disgust that President’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had stolen the presidential election.

Ahmadinejad had declared himself a landslide winner even though his top challenger Mir Hossein Moussavi had exit poll numbers showing that he had actually won by a large margin. His quote, now pretty much forgotten, was an arrow to the heart of the oppressive Iranian regime.

“Today the people’s will has been faced with an amazing incident of lies, hypocrisy and fraud.”

Ahmadinejad’s regime shut down cellphone transmissions and access to social media. It didn’t stop the graphic images of a dying Neda Agha Soltan, who was gunned down by a member of the pro-regime Basij militia. Images of her father begging her to open her eyes while blood covered the street, went pulsed onto the Internet. Ahmadinejad cronies said the CIA killed her. Enforcers ripped down black banners of mourning from her family’s home. These images from cellphones brought journalism to a different, more personal level.

If Ahmadinejad and the mullahs were never pop music fans, they probably were thankful just five days later when news broke on every network that Michael Jackson, the king of pop, was dead. All of a sudden, the “A” teams of all the networks were running to his rented Beverly Hills home. This became the center of world news. All of a sudden, Neda Agha Soltan, who bravely walked outside to protest an election result, might as well have been forgotten. Throngs of people, from all over the world, found the streets to hug one another and cry over Jackson’s death.

Iran was forgotten. “Expert” analysts talked about how important Jackson’s “Thriller” video changed MTV.

I bring this up, because it was just weeks ago that our news pundits were inundating us with scenes of tensions along the North Korean border with South Korea. North Korea’s young “leader,” Kim Jong-un, was threatening to attack South Korea, Japan and the U.S. with nuclear-armed missiles. Our government and our President said they were taking the boy leader seriously.

North Korea has disappeared from the news map. It was bumped off by the brothers Tsarnaev, who turned the Boston Marathon and Patriot’s Day into a bloody nightmare. Again, the networks and media set up anchor positions near the finish line where the killer explosions occurred. For hours and days, the media covered the blasts, the shootout, and the manhunt as it became the utmost of reality programming and ratings wars.

Boston became “Boston Strong.” President Obama was back in New England for another interfaith memorial service. He was just there in December after our nation mourned the raw recent memories of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

By the way, the Dec. 16, 2012, Hartford Courant front-page headline was “They Are All Our Children.”

Shortly after the Boston tragedy, our U.S. Senate, under the heavy influence of the National Rifle Association, shamefully defeated a measure calling for stricter background checks on gun purchases. At a recent NRA convention, held in Houston, the nation’s disagreement over gun control was defined as a “culture war” by an NRA official.

The New York Times front page for Sept. 11, 2001, didn’t really have a strong lead story. “Key Leaders Talk Of Possible Deals to Revive Economy,” “Scientists Urge Bigger Supply Of Stem Cells.” There was a photo of a mayoral candidate meeting with chasidic Jews while on the campaign trail. The country was attacked that day. The World Trade Center towers fell. The Pentagon was hit by a plane, and another hijacked jet crashed in Pennsylvania.

The Sept. 12, 2001, New York Times front page mournfully reported “U.S. Attacked,” “Hijacked Jets Destroy Twin Towers And Hit Pentagon In Day of Terror.”

On Monday, May 2, 2011, the St. Petersburg Times of Florida used one word to help us in some way bring closure.

It simply said, “Dead,” referring to the killing of terrorist Osama bin Laden.

We all knew the person the headline described.

Fast forward. We learn from the May 7 Washington Post front page that gun violence is down, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Who knows what bumps that off of Page 1 or the TV news reports and radio talk shows tomorrow or the day after?

My June, 2010, vacation was spent breaking the story of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, fresh out of jail and working in a Baltimore Pizza shop.

This year, I want to get to the beach and play in the sand with my grandson.

Did I tell you that our rental has wi-fi?

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