Thursday, January 27, 2005

Chasing Ernie: some philosophy

If you don't know who Ernie Pyle is, read this and this too before you read further.

In one of the halls of the Scripps Howard Media Center, a.k.a. the bureau, there is an area dedicated to the memory of Ernie Pyle. There's his portrait, copies of his expense accounts, and a picture of the place where he died that was marked with a sign with the date and that it was on that spot the 77th Infantry Division "lost a buddy."

Pyle is one of my heros for the example he set. He was published nationwide and is lovingly remembered by countless people for his writing, yet he rarely paid attention to the big stories. All he cared about was writing about the wonderful little things out there that make life wonderful. He paid utterly close detail to the man on the street, the child in the backyard, and the soldier in the foxhole.

Most reporters, myself included, dream of covering that one big story, that career-making, once in a lifetime piece. Everything else is irrelevant to so many of us, we just don't care about the tiny things, they're too hard to cover.

Pyle found fame, respect, success, maybe even love by persuing the tiny things, the grunts on the ground, the very foundation of the people. That is what matters.

Let's see if I can learn from him on that.


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