So word on the street is that the AJC could be nominated for three Pulitzers this year. You rock Big Cin D T! And one of the categories is Breaking News - for the courthouse shooting last year, a year ago to the day I believe.
And guess who wrote the, kinda sorta, breaking news guest editorial about Ms. Smith on 3/15/05? Yep, that would be Yours Truly, Spacey G. I wonder if this will make me a Pulitzer nominee by association? Beats me. E-mail the AJC and ask. Here's a re-print for ya, without their permission, as technically it is now intellectual property of the AJC. Think I'm gonna go stir-up a Dirty Girl martini and toast myself nonetheless! Brini will be so proud.
March 15, 2005
Hostage's story didn't have price tag
By GRAYSON _________________
Ashley Smith gives new meaning to the phrase "free press." Smith, the woman who miraculously managed to keep her considerable wits about her while being held hostage by fugitive Brian Nichols in her Gwinnett County apartment for hours on Saturday, gave away her astonishing story of courage and bravery for free.
In this day and age of extreme intellectual property concerns, she didn't have to do that. And who would have faulted her, a widow with a small child, for holding out for a paid "exclusive," even if it were with a disreputable tabloid or TV news channel? Instead, Smith told her compelling account of the ordeal to a frenzied, sleep-deprived press pack-at-large on Sunday night in her attorney's office.
Anyone remotely interested could have been there to record this narrative, from a lone blogger to Peter Jennings himself. Credentials are rarely checked at such hurried proceedings. All anyone really need do to be considered "media" nowadays is simply to show up where the action is.
Once there, every adrenaline-crazed member of every media outlet present at the news conference, be it local, national, print, Internet or television, was riveted into complete silence for a record-breaking 45 minutes. They actually listened to her explanation. For that astonishing feat alone, she should be generously compensated.
Her talk did not come cheap. Indeed, words seemed to have saved her life. It seems Smith was able to calm Nichols with the only weapon available to her throughout the ordeal - the words of her heart and mind. And whether they came from God or from mere strong wits, her words resonated powerfully for many this past weekend, and paved a significant path for law enforcement to do its assignment as well.
Smith could have recorded an account of her nightmare, with a lone camera crew perhaps. Then she could have taken possession of the tape, declared it her valuable property and decided for herself what to do with it; the amazing story was hers alone to tell. It did not necessarily belong to us, the demanding public.
That is what we, as free Americans, are constitutionally allowed to do: own property, intellectual or otherwise. A brave, honest woman who stared down terror and lived to tell the tale decided to give the people what they wanted to hear - and chose not to charge or manipulate or corrupt the information process we commonly refer to as "the media."
A free press is a two-way street; when we go back and forth at will, then the media actually work for us - the public. It's up to us to note Smith's astonishing example, and use media wisely if they come our way. Of course, Smith probably will receive reward money for turning Nichols over to authorities. And possibly, she will make future deals, such as the sale of film rights, which may offer further compensation.
Let's hope such future agreements are lucrative ones. She deserves every penny.
tags: Pulitzer Prize, AJC, Cynthia Tucker, Courthouse Shooting