Once upon a time, I was a reporter. I was never very proud of my reporting skills -- I simply didn't have a real nose for news, I couldn't get used to the idea that I was allowed to ask hard, probing questions, and no matter how hot the story, all I ever really wanted to do was go home and do something else.

April 19, 1995 was one of the few times that I felt proud of my skills as a reporter.

I was working as the news director and sole reporter for a little radio station in Breckenridge, Texas. I got into work on that fine April morning expecting to record a few news broadcasts, spin some records, suffer through some mismanagement from management, and not much more. I checked our "news wire" (I don't remember what wire service we used, but management used them because they were cheap, and I hated them for the same reason) and noted a couple of references to a bomb blowing up at a federal building in Oklahoma City. Big deal. Some dork left a pipe bomb on the steps and they stick it on the wire? Please. But they kept sending more and more updates so, wondering if this were a real news story instead of the usual crap we got on the wire, I switched on the little TV in the studio and learned the full story...

Now I wasn't silly enough to try to actually report on this -- CNN was doing fine and didn't need a little country reporter's assistance. The most I did was mention whatever new information there was between every couple of songs, just in case any of our local farmers or oilfield workers was stuck listening to us instead of watching the tube.

You may not remember, but very soon after coverage of the bombing began, it became very clear that the anchors at every station were assuming that Muslim extremists were behind the bombing. Not an unexpected assumption, considering the circumstances, but I'd been taught that a reporter must not assume too much. Besides, I thought, why would a bunch of Iraqis bomb a building in Oklahoma City instead of one in New York or Washington or L.A.? It made no sense. So I bucked the trend and told my tiny number of listeners that no one had any solid information about who was responsible. I believe I was one of a very, very small number of reporters who didn't jump to the conclusion that all terrorists were of Middle Eastern descent. I did not contribute to the atmosphere of mistrust, paranoia, and xenophobia that followed.

Then I got fired, but I don't think the two were connected.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.