Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Best Damn Dead Squirrel Reporting on the Internet

I tread lightly here, because it wasn't just a few years ago that I was the idiot reporter bringing in news stories like this one (from Local News 8) Link his here; I can't guarantee it's permanent, however:

A squirrel got the shock of its life Monday morning, and so did people in his neighborhood. It happened in the area near Freeman and Cleveland Streets in Idaho Falls.

The little squirrel made his way to a transformer box on top of a power pole and was electrocuted. It landed on the ground.

The mishap caused an extremely loud explosion, and it startled several people living nearby.
"All of the sudden there was a huge ‘kaboom!' And I mean, it was loud! And then a lot of smoke came up from the ground," explained Diana Forbes, who witnessed the explosion.

The smoke near the ground was most likely from the body of the little squirrel. It apparently fell from power pole after the explosion.

Comments on the local news' website about this story have been comical to say the least. A few chimed in to say that the station had no right to parade this dead squirrel's remains on television, where innocent children are confronted with the grisly images. If her innocent kids are anything like mine, this is not the first unfortunate, dead animal they have seen in their lifetime. We had a dead bird in our front yard earlier this summer, which the kids found. We explained death to them -- a topic they're already familiar with, given the passing of their Opa (who died before the younger two were born, and at a time when the oldest wasn't even a year old). So the concept of death is not new to them. They asked a lot of questions. We answered them, honestly. We've talked to them about the fact that our dachshund, now 14 years old, is likely to die in the next few years. It'll be sad, we tell them, but that's how life goes.

Then there's the misdirected soul commenting on the story who decries the sentiment expressed by these two ladies, angrily snarling "It's people like you who have helped the government turn Americans into sheep," as if there's a vast conspiracy to conceal rodent death from the general population, or if the moment we cry for dead rodent censorship on local television is the exact same moment the feds will descend upon us with their helicopters with the owl-feather-coated rotors.

Then there's the ghoul who is upset that the TV station, instead of reporting on dead squirrels, isn't reporting on the traffic accidents he/she has seen in the last few days. These kinds of rubberneckers aren't content with driving by the site of destruction, they want the local TV station to aid and abet their rubbernecking. My Dad, rest his soul, was a serious rubbernecker. One of the most embarassing moments from my childhood came after a cop shouted at dad over me through the passenger window because Dad was moving too slow past the scene of an accident. Additionally, having been a reporter, I'd like to say this: These are the worst kinds of stories to do. Do you like ambulance-chasing lawyers? Why encourage ambulance-chasing among reporters? And, having been in a few accidents myself, I'd like to say that the last thing I need is some idiot reporter shoving a microphone in my face. Although if one did, I'd insist the only way I'd talk to them is if the printed "Brian Davidson, Local Boob" underneath my picture when they do the reporting. (Best Homer Simpson line ever, if I'm allowed a segue: "Our lives are in the hands of men no smarter than you or I. Many of them incompetent boobs.")

Urgh. All of this confirms the fact I'm glad I'm no longer in the news business.

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