City at Half Mast

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As it would happen, Ottawa has had a rough week.

A week ago today there was a tragic bus accident and then over the weekend a member of our foreign service was killed in the Kenya mall attack.

It's been a sombre mood to say the least, and we've seen about a week now with the flags at half mast around town.

On Monday I had a journalism instructor tell us rather crassly that we've created a need for a culture of communal grieving, and that's why as journalists we're forced to cover stories like this.

That the public memorials of flowers and shrines "started after Diana" and "have no place in news."

I think he was under the impression that our culture is falling apart otherwise, and so when a tragedy happens, we choose to connect communally to replace what used to be present in previous decades; a sense of belonging.

I was 12 when Diana Died so it's strange to think we wouldn't cover things like this. That people wouldn't care to ask why a tragedy happens, or how it could have been prevented, or if there's a possibility that it could happen to them - or even if it could have been them in that place.

I know me personally, this week was the first time I've felt a deep appreciation for reporters and coverage of these sorts of issues. I always talk about how I don't like splashy stories that sell papers and that serve to break a journalist (they always send the newbie reporter out to cover obituaries/car accidents). And while I have no desire to write or report on these sorts of things, this week's coverage of both events in the news made me realize how much I appreciate that there's someone willing to do this sort of work.

So I'm caught. Maybe it's sad and we don't experience as deep of a real connection to our communities, but I know that I do care for my community. And seeing all the flags down around all week affected me. So I guess what I'm saying is like it or not, today, these sorts of things have a place in the news.