Wednesday, May 14, 2008

NPR Shows How To Own A Story

"All Things Considered" Hosts Much More Than Opportunistic With China Earthquake Coverage

Can you say enough good things about NPR's coverage of the China earthquake?


Not only were "All Things Considered" co-hosts Robert Siegel and Melissa Block (seen left with producer Andrea Hsu) in China preparing for a week-long series of reports when the quake hit, they were in Chengdu, not far from the quake's epicenter.
Since then, they have been filing -- with extremely able assistance from producers Art Silverman and Andrea Hsu -- astonishing and heart-rending array of reports from the hardest-hit region.

Among them is this dispatch from Siegel, who visited one devastated village. After being briefed matter-of-factly on what the village needs now, Siegel asked the leader about his relatives."

"Is your family all right?" Siegel asked.

"As far as I know, they are all buried," came the reply.

Good for Siegel, that we heard him say "I'm so sorry," before the man started to cry.

Block will also find her rightful place in NPR's pantheon for her play-by-play when the quake first hit (she was doing an interview at a time) and a searing report from the rubble of a school, as bodies of children are brought out and families find out that, yes, they must now grieve.
"Many of these young victims would have been their family's only children. And in row after row their parents sat huddled through the rainy night keeping watch one last time over their babies."
It's the kind of writing that is of the first order for radio news, or for any medium for that matter. It makes you stop, listen, think, and rush home to hug your kids even tighter than you already do.
We already knew Siegel and Block were skilled interviewers and engaging hosts. Because they are normally found in a studio nowadays, we may not have known or remembered that they both logged time as reporters as well. Their instincts have not failed them.
And we are all the better for it.

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