“If it bleeds it leads!”
That was the motto in the newsroom of the ABC-TV affiliate in Harrisburg, PA where I started my career. Fresh out of college, I remember those bleary eyed mornings, 5:30 am, just developing a taste for very bad office coffee. My job was to call every hospital emergency room, police precinct and ambulance dispatcher in central Pennsylvania to find out if there was any overnight carnage in the area.
How about something from sports or scientific breakthroughs I once suggested to our chain-smoking, managing editor. “That ain’t want the audience wants” he growled between hacking coughs. Research confirms he was right. According to author and entrepreneur, Rolf Dobelli, News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier. Entrepreneur emeritus Peter Diamandis said it’s all about understanding our “Negativity Bias.”
With a revolving door White House, Facebook privacy breaches, FBI leaks, mass shootings at schools, and tensions flaring from the Middle East to the Korean peninsula, we’re up to our eyeballs in negativity from the conventional media and social media.
However, every once in a while some positive news tops the headlines. This week it happened not once, but twice. In both cases, female heroes were cited for doing their jobs extremely well under supremely difficult circumstances—and we’re not talking about coming forward to report workplace harassment.
On Monday, lightly regarded 34 year-old distance runner, Desiree Linden, become the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years. Linden overcome bone-chilling Nor’ Easter weather conditions and an unplanned sportsmanship break 45 minutes into the race, while waiting for Shalane Flanagan, a teammate and pre-race favorite, to take an emergency bathroom break. Together they chased down the lead pack and Linden, somehow found an extra gear in the final slippery miles, cruising uncontested to break the finishing tape.
“It’s supposed to be hard,” Linden told reporters after her victory, shivering with a laurel wreath atop her head. “It’s good to get it done.”
On Tuesday, Southwest Airlines pilot, Tammie Jo Shults, calmly made an emergency landing in Philadelphia after the engine on Shults’s New York-to-Dallas bound plane exploded shortly after takeoff, spraying shrapnel into the aircraft. If that wasn’t bad enough, the explosion caused a window to be blown out and left a female passenger dead after she was partially sucked out of broken plane window for several minutes and hit by the flying debris.
The plane plummeted from 31,000 to 10,000 feet in just five minutes as panicked passengers texted their final goodbyes to loved ones while struggling to bring the ejected woman back into the plane. Despite the havoc in the passenger area, Shults kept her calm in the cockpit. She found an alternative landing strip, made a smooth emergency landing in Philly and got everyone safely to the tarmac with only one fatality and a few injuries.
Several of you shared comments with me in the aftermath. “The coordination and calm is astounding!” remarked Donna Vislocky, head of Dunedin, Florida-based DV Media and a former award-winning network news producer. “It’s just incredible what all these people do!” Stuart Sessions, who runs an environmental consulting firm near Washington, DC said “Wow! How great to hear everyone doing their jobs wonderfully when it counts the most.” Recollecting the movie about Sully, Sessions said, “I hope she gets the credit she deserves without the second guessing.”
In a joint statement made with First Officer Darren Ellisor Wednesday, Schults said: “As Captain and First Officer of the Crew of five who worked to serve our Customers aboard Flight 1380 yesterday, we all feel we were simply doing our jobs.”
Trust us, Stuart, she won’t be second-guessed. Listen to the actual control tower transcript.
Do yourself a favor. Turn off the news every so often and just take a look at the world around you. Everyday people are doing remarkable things each and every day. Their acts generally don’t grab the headlines or boost the ratings, but they make the world a much better place than the pundits, news media and tweeting heads of state would like you to believe.
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TAGS: Tammi Jo Schults, Desiree Linden, Peter Diamandis, Rolf Dobelli, female heroes