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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Freed journalists have chance to "finish the story"

At Blur, we're not news writers in the traditional sense of the word, in that our stories don't generally hit hard with bone chilling facts or have a direct effect on millions of lives. Band breakups are our homicides. Tour dates are our public affairs. Album rumors, our Capitol Hill gossip.

But everyone - anyone - in any line of work that permits (or demands) the title of Journalist, has been fighting a panging nausea in the back of our collective throat since the news of Laura Ling and Euna Lee's capture while reporting on North Korean defectors many months ago. And all of us - ALL of us - were able to breathe a sigh of relief last night with the news of their release.

This story was a perfect storm scenario of time and place for two simple reasons. The first, wholly the most obvious and far-reaching, is the nationalistic tensions between our country and North Korea. Our journalists taken by their armies. We're trained, as of late, to attach a certain degree of mistrust or skepticism to anything under the North Korean umbrella. This was no exception. Journalists, biologists, baseball was almost irrelevant who was taken to most people. The outrage was already built in for us.

The second, and, in my humble opinion, the far more interesting reason, is the sense of concern among the culture of citizen journalists around the world, regardless of nationality or status. The term journalist is now, at it roots, more gelatinous than ever before. Any schmoe with a blog is, in some sense, a journalist (that noise you're hearing is the venerable Mr. Cronkite rolling in his grave, God rest his soul), and this allowed for a more widespread feeling of personal stake in this story. Any journalist taken by any army. The thought is more chilling, and the news of the plight more readily available, than ever before.

The world - the citizen journalists of the world - helped us stay connected to this story, and all are sharing in the victory of these women's return. But what now? Now that everyone is watching, what's the next move? For my part, I hope Laura and Euna spend every available second of the next month with their families, counting their blessings for being alive and able to see their loved ones again. And then? Go back to work quickly and vigorously. Go back to work doing what the vast majority of people in this world lack the courage to do - and counting their blessings for the opportunity to finish the story.

But hey, what do I know? I'm just a music guy. Welcome home, Laura and Euna!

- Alec Wooden

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