Weekend Column – Why?

Dec 15, 2015 by

There are six words every budding journalist had better answer on every story.

Miss one of them, and a crusty old editor will yell and throw a stylebook at you. Your college professor will give you an “F.”

At least that’s the way it used to be. Now that editor would be sent to anger management or sensitivity training. The professor better hope he’s got tenure, and even then may have to write an apology for hurting the precious snowflake’s feelings.

Five of the words begin with “w”: who, what, where, when, and why. The sixth word is like the month of February, can’t have 30 or 31 days like every other month or start with a “w.” No sir, just have to be different. That word would be “how.”

Enough about “how.” Already taken up to much column space. Instead, let’s talk about “why.”

Like why after church on Sunday I decide to catch up on some work. Like why when I open my laptop the screen is, shall we say, full of funky colors.

Like why I close the lid and notice there’s a crack on the logo of an apple with a bite taken out of it. In other words, the screen is kaput.

After getting various versions of “no freaking way did I touch, sit, slam, look at” said computer from the SONS of Thunder, I dug a little deeper. The only answer I could come up with was that our version of Cerberus (http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Creatures/Cerberus/cerberus.html) got up on the couch where I had put it and sat on it.

This led me to having to actually go to our head IT guy and explain, that yes, my dog did it. And getting a response in return that went something like “this is probably going to cost (fill in some absurd number) to fix.” Yeah, great.

I was given a loaner while mine was sent to whatever spa these things go to in order to recoup from the ravages that ignorant men hit them with.

Which brings us back to “why.” Like I have no “y,” as in the letter “y,” not the word “why.” In simpler terms, when I press “y” on the loaner keyboard, said letter does not appear.

You know that old saying about how you never miss something until it’s gone? Well, try editing or writing stories with a letter or two missing.

I got my laptop back. The letter “y” works, which I guess is obvious since you can see all the y’s I’ve typed.

There are still whys, however. Some we can answer. Some take time to figure out. Some we will never answer.

For instance, I know why Clay Neely, our public safety reporter, texted me around 9:30 p.m. Thursday. His text asked me to edit a story he was going to post to the web.

I did not know the particulars of the story before looking at it, but I knew it was not going to be good. Getting a text from Clay at that hour meant a shooting, a fire, or a car wreck. You see, that’s the kind of things Clay covers.

It was a three-vehicle car wreck. Two people dead. Another air flighted to Atlanta.

The wreck happened late Thursday. I am writing this column early Friday. And our reporters are already working on those six words.

We know “where.” We know “when.” We know “what.” As of Friday morning, we also know the “who” and the “how.”

And then there’s the “why.” We know the “why” from an informational standpoint, a vehicle went into oncoming traffic.

But we will never know the “why,” as to why did this have to happen. I have interviewed too many families that ask that same question years after the fact.

I don’t know that answer. All I can do is tell the SONS to be alert and slow down when they are behind the wheel. That they are not, despite what they think, immortal.

Until next time.

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