Thursday, March 12, 2009


Stories. I've written and told lots of them.

I've covered court cases. I remember an agri-businesses which wanted to set up a huge feedlot (cattle station/livestock farm) a few miles upwind from a town of several thousand. People took the business to court, claiming the stink of the feedlot would fill the town. They won. Some years later (I understand) another feedlot was successful, in spite of the town's concerns. I'm also told that, may summer days, the smell is so strong you can't have a barbecue (barbie/cookout) in town, because of the overpowering odor.

I've been at train wrecks, with toxic chemical spills. I've sat through a lot of long, tedious, boring town and city council meetings. I've covered "mock" disasters -- emergency preparedness exercises. I've seem a "little guy" beat the tax man in court; it can be done. I've seen high school students, from good homes, convicted for vandalizing a church. I've written stories on budgets, on government programs (remember the phrase: "I'm from the government, I'm here to help you"?), on farmers attempts to get just and meaningful farm policies put into place, or keep them once they're established. I've been on the lines when a farm family was putting up a fight to try to save its farm (i.e., business and home) from a banker.

They're stories of joy, possibility, hope, fear, success, frustration, justice and real injustice.

For a journalist, there are five basic questions: who, what, when, where, and why. The "why" question is always an ethical question -- a question of meaning, purpose, goal, intention. It's a question of how we are going to treat each other, the world, or both. It was an easy step to move from the ethical questions of a journalist to the ethical questions of the medical ethicist (as well as the who, what, where, and when).

"And," to quote the late Paul Harvey, "now you know the rest of the story."


The Blog Fodder said...

When Hugh Nicholson built the U of S research feedlot back in the very early 1960's, the good people of Saskatoon, across the river complained bitterly about the smell. This was several months before there were any cattle in it.

Rob-bear said...

Well, you have to remember the feedlot is north of the University, but on the east side of the river. The prevailing wind is from the north-west. Who's going to have problems -- the people in the hamlet of Sutherland?

Natalie said...

No, we don't. There is plenty we don't know about your everyday adventures, Rob.

Bring it on!

Lee said...

It must be a fascinating position to be in at times.