Indy readers will no doubt remember that last week, KPTV blatantly ignored a real story about real suffering in the storm. They turned away from a homeless man who was unable to get into a shelter, and turned back to the fluffy and mindless "storm team 12" coverage of snowballs and pretty icicles. KPTV wasn't alone in its disregard for the consequences of sub-freezing temperatures on homeless people, but they were certainly more brazen and willful about it.
Yesterday, I had an interesting encounter with Jim Hyde, long-time reporter in Portland. While wandering around killing time after the Cheney beheading at Pioneer Square, I happened back on the rowdy little band of protesters near City Hall. When I arrived, they were having a heated debate with Mr. Hyde. It seems they had found him and a camera operator trying to interview someone in front of City Hall, and they interrupted his broadcast. Jim was livid, but to his credit, he stayed and talked to the people. He was stunned and baffled by the encounter, at first calling the protesters "stupid" and "foolish," saying they surely were "more intelligent than that." They held their ground, though. One young woman insisted, "The airwaves belong to us." She pointed out that the corporate media is hijacking the voice of the people. Mr. Hyde just shook his head, but again, he did stay to listen. I think he may even think about some of what was said. Later, though, and not on the air.
In the midst of the discussion, someone asked what story he was working on that was so important he couldn't give the protesters a voice. Wasn't what they had to say at least as important as whatever it was he was "reporting" on? Jim explained that his story had "nothing to do with you." (Like we didn't know that already.) He then divulged that the very important story was "about all the snow, the storm from last week." No. Could it be? Are they STILL talking about it? Yes, this time, the angle was the paid leave city and county workers got for the work they missed last week.
It was the perfect moment to ask something I have been very curious about. I couldn't resist. With my camera rolling, I asked him, "What do you think about the fact that homeless people were freezing in the streets during the storm?" I had intended to pursue the issue by asking why KPTV had so forcefully ignored this story. But I was so taken aback by his reply that I was too stunned to follow up. He looked right into my camera and said, "Tough." Tough? I wanted more. Icicles and snowballs make a story, but people freezing to death is just, tough? "LIfe is tough," he repeated.
So it is.