Denver Bar Association
March 2008
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Facts We NEED To Know!

by Dennis Walker

We gathered at my home to enjoy the holiday evening on Jan. 1. My son, his wife, their one-year-old daughter, my wife, our older daughter, and I sat down to view part of a major college bowl game. I had not followed much college football, but this game promised a few exciting moments. The score became lopsided, and little Abigail gave us more fun than the TV.

A local Denver news anchor interrupted the football to announce grisly details of Denver’s first shooting deaths of the new year. Several of us were jolted away from the beating being inflicted on the Warriors by the Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl. The anchor declared a few details and promised others after the game. She ended with an invitation to learn more and said, "… enjoy the rest of the game," signing off with a smile. I guess we were expected to resume the holiday triumph of Georgia and the dismantling of the Warriors’ high hopes.

We multi-task. We carry on several conversations at once. Our conscious attention is captured for bits and pieces of moments. We gather impressions and form initial judgments and perspectives. Complete stories are not often enjoyed.

"Why did we need to hear about that?" I wondered. My son added, "The occurrence of crime continues to go down, but the reporting of crime continues to rise." Was there some point to the urgent reporting of a shooting as a "teaser?"

We got back to the baby and the realization that Hawaii had no chance. We were expected to "enjoy the game" after learning of the first deadly shooting of the new year. It just did not seem like "news" that we needed to know.

One of my brothers once observed that he would have to move away from Cincinnati if he picked up the newspaper and read about another stabbing in some part of town. I think he knew that sharing his annoyance didn’t get him anywhere. Yet, the question about what we need to know and when we need to know it merits consideration. After being convinced several years ago to start paying for TV, I realized that I was rarely paying any attention to local news programs. Maybe if something needs to be shouted at me that is when the whole story is worth hearing.

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