Friday, December 28, 2007

Look, I is on the News!

Whenever my local town of Maupin makes the Portland news, it is because something bad has happened. Whether it’s a flood, fire, river drowning, earthquake, or a piano falling from the sky, it’s never a good thing.

They say the best thing about living in a small town is how everyone knows everyone. They also say the worst thing about living in a small town is how everyone knows everyone. With those two statements, I would agree.

What amazes me is how the television media, during a local crisis, can manage to find the most obscure, spooky, backwoods hermit of a person to interview. Even more amazing is how nobody in town will know the person they are interviewing. How do they find these people?

“When the rain started tinklin on the window I knew right den and der we was gonna have a flood. Back in ’81 we had a 8- foot wall a water come down the river and I watched four deer get picked up out of the meadow and swept out to sea. That’s how the mule deer got bred to the blacktails from the valley, because of that der flood. Funny thing was that my great aunt Ethel was at the coast when she saw four deer walking down the beach. It had to be them four I seen in the flood.”

My town is not the only small town to face the phenomenon of the media’s mysterious interviewees. I asked a friend from a neighboring town who the funny buck-tooth guy was on the news and he had never seen the man. These people seem to just show up during the crisis long enough to be caught by the media.

I’ve always wanted to know what the media hoped to gain by finding people like that. It would seem simple to find anyone even remotely normal to interview, but seldom is that the case.

I was reminded how badly the media can distort things when the man wanting to put a natural gas pipeline through our place was astounded we had e-mail out here. My response to that statement went something like this:

“Yep, we do have e-mail, and I also heard there is this big truck with a large crane on top that spins which can dig down hundreds of feet enabling us to maybe get running water someday soon. Just think, we might not have to run outside to go in the middle of the night much longer and I won’t have to bathe in the creek anymore.” He wasn’t thrilled with my response, as I wasn’t thrilled with his elitist attitude either.

A second so-called infraction was when the federal auditors were sent to investigate our new buildings for the fire department. The fire chief received a phone call asking if the investigators would require an SUV to successfully navigate to the fire station. Keep in mind this was June, and snowy roads were unavailable.

The chief’s response had something to do with a horse-and-buggy and how an SUV would be the first automobile to come by since the Model T was introduced. It appears the disconnect between urban and rural centers always involves ignorance and mistaken preconceptions.

I suppose this is true with anything. Taking the media’s word for something and developing an idea based solely on that information would be dangerous. As for the pipeline guy and the federal auditors with their SUV, perhaps the fault does not lie completely with them; however I am shocked they haven’t made it out to rural areas at least once in their lifetimes.

Today there is a television crew wanting to do a story on the recent earthquakes in the area. The news lady is waving at me to do an interview. Perhaps they want to interview a normal person in the area; or, maybe I’m the nearest obscure, spooky, backwoods hermit.

Kevin Duling is a wheat farmer from Maupin, Ore. His stories will be posted on the Capital Press blog every Friday. Comments are welcomed at

Copyright, December 2007, Kevin Duling.

1 comment:

Bpaul said...

Great post, really enjoyed your writing.

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