I was sitting at home last Friday, doing some work and getting ready to go to a birthday party when an Idle No More protest sprung up in my city. Unfortunately I missed the outbreak of the news on twitter and was a little behind on the play by play.
For about an hour I seriously considered abandoning my plans to hurtle after this potentially-no-longer-existent road blockade until I received a text from a friend of mine who said the protest was made up of about 5 people who did not appear to directly associate themselves with the INM.
Though I did end up attending my party, the event and the closeness with which I had come to abandoning my plans to pursue a one-time chance got me thinking; journalism is a little bit like being Batman.
Once a religious subscriber to Saturday morning super hero cartoons, I can still recall the lonely images of Bruce Wayne’s various girlfriends left waiting at his dining table or in some classy restaurant looking forlornly out the window for the man bound to the thrill of chasing moments that were both pivotal and fleeting. Alfred would shake his head in disappointment before gently saying to them, “I’m sorry miss, I don’t think he’s coming”.
With the IDM movement and the events surrounding First Nations relations this past week facts, plans, and political directions changed quickly, at some points almost from minute to minute. When you’re chasing down such fluid stories in major arena politics the process is both exhilarating and breathtaking; the level of importance of the events you’re witnessing weigh on you as you try to grapple with analytic interpretations. Like Bruce running to a port to witness a weapons deal, you find justifiable reason in pursuing events which might give you a piece to the greater puzzle.
Another nerdy comparison to be drawn is the level of background and ongoing research Batman undertakes to develop a full understanding of the situation he involves himself in. A clue-hunter and intellectual, Batman is known to undertake long hours of reflection that almost border on obsession when considering serious and complex issues; he is frequently the last of the Justice League members to make his move which is no doubt carefully calculated.
On some level investigative journalism can mirror Bruce Wayne’s obsession with the truth, shelving other thoughts or activities to build sturdy base of contextual knowledge on an issue within minutes or hours. The number of tabs open on my computer when I am researching frequently crashes my system.
Like the Bat we use an accumulation of interviews, clues, and questions to develop a concrete image of the larger picture. Yet unlike the Bat we must accept that the journalism is more prone to error because it is intimately tied to the moment; better analyses lie ahead after the dust has already settled. Perhaps this is unfair, but what people write on an issue in the moments it’s developing is integral to a scholar’s understanding of the event later on.
All this to say, the journalist’s romantic and social life is very much in danger of succumbing to the Bat syndrome. But the work is incredibly rewarding and relevant and can bring one closer to their community and the world as a whole. If we avoid Bruce Wayne’s martyrdom, we can achieve balance in our undertakings as we chase the ever changing tides of current events.
— Fruits Basket