The greatest stories require tension.
Adversity comes with being alive, and any story without it isn’t really a story.
We are not measured by how smoothly we sail through life, but how many times we are knocked down and get back up. That sentiment forms many clichés, but the truth is without setbacks, there is no progress.
In the Talking Heads 1979 song Heaven, David Byrne signs “heaven is a place, a place where nothing, nothing ever happens.” Every time I hear that lyric, I remark on how boring heaven would be, according to Byrne and co-writer Jerry Harrison.
Monotony is the adversary to life. Life is unpredictable and it tests us. Every day is a test, because things happen.
Many reporters pursue this profession because we thrive in unpredictable situations. Even if days are similar, no two days are identical. Demanding professions are like that.
But in both the personal and professional realms, days are always open to frustration.
People get frustrated for lots of reasons, but usually it boils down to not getting your way in the timeframe you wanted.
For me, this usually involves making several phone calls, leaving several messages and not getting the interview I wanted the day I wanted it.
I don’t succumb to frustration the way I did as a short-fused youth, because I noticed it was unproductive.
The best way to solve what’s making you frustrated is by not showing any of that frustration.
As the Times-Herald’s primary court and crime reporter, I’m often exposed to other people’s frustrations.
The legal process can be trying and time-consuming. Victims and their families are always happy when matters are concluded. Even accused people want to accelerate the process.
Estate battles can last more than five years while both sides keep getting angrier.
Of the arrests and charges I’ve covered since May, only one has been resolved. People get tied up in the judicial system for years and not all of the blame can be directed at lawyers. The system is naturally slow.
It’s not only the legal system that can be frustrating.
Governments on all three levels easily draw scorn. Legendary Canadian musician Neil Young criticized the federal government’s desire for money from the tarsands.
Saskatchewan’s provincial government came under scrutiny from the acting-auditor, Judy Ferguson, for keeping two sets of financial books.
The City of Moose Jaw has been criticized using all sorts of adjectives regarding snow removal and road maintenance already this winter.
The difference is the impact of the voice of Ferguson and Young. Ferguson’s comments in the report about the Saskatchewan Party made provincial headlines. Young’s comments about the Conservative Party became an international story.
So far, other than motivating some Times-Herald reporters to make phone calls, the frustration of Moose Javians regarding the safety of winter roads has added up to nothing.
Not one petition has been created and not one protest has been held.
An editorial in the Times-Herald’s Jan. 11 paper encouraged citizens to laugh off frustrations or get creative about voicing them, as the Dombowsky brothers did by skating down Main Street. That editorial was met with resistance.
Well, Moose Jaw, you have all the tension you need for a great story this winter. The way you’re going makes it look like a very boring ending. I, again, encourage you to get creative. It’s the only way to fight that frustration.
Austin M. Davis can be reached at 306-691-1258 or follow him on Twitter @theAustinX.