I like blogging out in the field. Being 'out there' I can give a sense of what it's like as the producer traveling for a story, seeking out people to talk to who represent a view point, and of course finding THE news.
But let me tell you about another side of this business -- it's a piece of the process, but it too can inspire and illuminate when you least expect. I am in a small dark screening room that has no windows starting to transcribe an interview I just produced with Ann Curry. No, 'fraid it's not Angelina... it's celebrated author and holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. They are discussing the conflict in Darfur, Sudan and its importance to the world. This is for a "Making a Difference" piece that is in the works to air this weekend.
It's late and I'm tired, but we are scripting tomorrow so I have to listen to it now. I was there for the interview at the United Nations, don't get me wrong, but Wiesel is so soft spoken a man only Ann and our audio person, Jimmy Williams, was privy to his conversation. As you can see in the photo to the left, Ann leaned in so closely to hear him slowly speak that short of sitting between them there was no way in the beautiful but cavernous General Assembly lounge I could hear a thing. Now, as a producer that's nerve wracking and frustrating because you want to hear it all to ensure the "bite" or two that will find its way to the script. Without that, I am now anxious to hear the tape.
Thus here I sit, with a bag of chips, a can of soda and the tape.
Ann: Why are you, a man who has given voice to those who were killed during the Holocaust... why are you speaking out on this issue in a place that's far away from that suffering?
Wiesel: Because when we were there, nobody came... I learned that suffering confers no privilege. It's what we do with it. And what we do with our suffering is to prevent further suffering. And that's the moral message if there is a message at all of that period. Not to stand by...
Yes. Just like that I am completely drawn in... in a dark screening room in the bowels of Rockefeller Plaza I am not only getting a lesson in humanity but also of conscience.
Ann: People in America see what is happening in other places in the world and they say, "Oh, there is always conflict and killing and difficulty and poverty and struggle and we can't get involved with everything that comes down the road." What is it about what's happening in this place in Africa in Darfur that you say we cannot walk away from?
Wiesel: Somehow history chooses occasionally a capital of suffering. And now it's Darfur. The world's capitol of human suffering is in Darfur. Therefore to say, "there again or too many people suffer, so what?"... come on, that's not to be human. That's a betrayal of humanity. I think if one is indifferent to one tragedy, by the way, then one remains indifferent to all tragedies. But to use all tragedies as an excuse for not being involved in one, immediate tragedy, that is unworthy of anyone who believes in moral principles.
Eli Wiesel didn't tell me anything I don't already know. But here is the thing. It's not a quote on the library wall, or a passage in a book. He said it today to warn us, TODAY, about things that are happening right now.