Sago Mine “Tragedy”

To:      News Reporters - Part I
From: Your Advisor
Date:  10 January 2006
RE:     Sago Mine “Tragedy”

First let me congratulate you for reminding us all how very sad it is to die. You pointed out with clarity and repetition how especially sad this is for family members left behind and how this sadness is made all the worse by being uneducated, isolated, and poor.

Your coverage of the 12 coal miners killed in the Sago Mine was especially helpful for city people like me who are educated, rich, and plan not to die – ever. Come to think of it, we don't even plan to get old. What we do wonder is why in the world anyone would agree to work in a coal mine in the first place? Your relentless questions showed us the answer – unemployment and poverty have lost their cachet.

What else? Well, some facts did make their way into your coverage. For example, the Sago Mine had 202 safety violations last year, a number that included 16 violations considered immediate hazards to miners' safety. The mine’s injury rate last year was three times the national average. In different places the Sago roof has fallen 14 times since June alone. But enough of this silliness. It’s dull and it’s depressing. Can’t we get back to the story?

Yes, I know you’ve heard doom and gloomers bang on about how you clogged the little town with your trucks, shoved lights and microphones into grieving faces and managed to make a terrible time twice as terrible. But what about all the news you uncovered? Like, what’s it like to work in a cave 5ft high? Or, are your kids looking forward to a lifetime of dust and dark? And hey, how come I don’t see lines around the block looking for jobs here? You know like the lines for Star Wars.

Beyond explaining these complicated coal mining realities, you really took me into the mind of a miner’s family. “How does it feel” you asked many, many, many times, to learn your husband might die, then is alive, but then is dead?

What would they say, I wondered? Many of them cried I noticed. Some cursed. Interesting. I suppose I would too. That’s when it hit me. We’re not so different those miners and me. True – I’m rich and lucky while they’re poor and dead. But apart from that we still cry and curse over the same things. That’s what real news reporting does – brings people together. It shows us we are a family after all.

Without your hard work, we would never know. Thank you. This is fun. What’s up for next week?


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