Thursday, April 01, 2010

Considering the implications of a higher profile

(I just want to apologize to the person who suggested the book idea. I am grateful for the idea and would urge you to move forward if you want to. The comments in my column came across that I was ungrateful and thought the idea was somehow mean-spirited. I absolutely know that the suggestion was well intended and I apologize 100% for even seeming to suggest that the idea was intended to take advantage of the situation. Nothing could be further from the truth. I should have given you a heads up on these comments (to put them in the correct context) and I neglected to do so. My fault completely. I am a total, utter, flippin' idiot for this!)

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Editorial section

When I wrote last week's column about a missing woman, I had no idea she would be found a mere few hours later after escaping from her alleged kidnapper. Over the next couple of days, some of the sordid details of the entire ordeal were made known. A man has been charged and will go to trial.

Tens of thousands of people rejoiced. People praised God for the positive outcome. A truck driver driving innocently down a city street has a story to tell his children and grandchildren. Local people breathed a sigh of relief that the woman had been found alive and that the alleged perpetrator had been caught.

A family is reunited. The police have a happy ending that -- I can only assume -- they were starting to wonder whether it would ever happen.

Because of last week's column, my name became attached to the case by some media outlets doing online searches for potential interviews.

The night of her rescue it was the lead story on a national radio news interview show and I was privileged to be a guest and discuss community reaction to the news that she'd been found alive.

Then, it was an interview on national morning television and then a New Brunswick television news broadcast.

I then got a call from another radio show for a potential interview. The segment didn't go ahead, after all, but I was struck by a comment by the producer who was looking to book me.

Basically, she asked why I was being interviewed by these national media. My answer was that I wrote a column about the woman on the very same day she was found. Right place at the right time.

I laughed and said, "What was I supposed to say when they called? No?" Then she chuckled and agreed.

So while I found myself being interviewed by well-known national and provincial radio and TV hosts, I suddenly found myself as one of the people being sought out for community reaction to her rescue and the subsequent publication ban surrounding her case.

I didn't ask for any of this to happen, but the calls came in and I answered them.

Some, I'm sure, were asking, "Why him?" Trust me, so was I.

In fact, some did ask me to my face.

When I explained about the column and the coincidental timing, they understood -- I think. Again, I asked: "What was I supposed to do? Turn them down and say no?"

Of course, the answer always was, "Well, of course not! Do the interview!"

I did the interviews with mixed feelings, knowing that I was getting exposure due to this woman's horrible misfortune. However, I hope I did it in a dignified manner that didn't exploit her ordeal. The fact is that media need to get some interviews when these things happen, and I had a connection to the case solely by the opportune timing of last week's column.

Because I'm quite active on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, I also let my online friends and followers know that I was doing the interviews. That was a dilemma. How much was promoting the fact that I was getting this exposure too much? Was I supposed to hide the fact that I was on these shows? I don't know. After all, how many times do you get to appear on national shows? Was I supposed to keep quiet?

I never pretended to be an innocent little wallflower who doesn't want attention, but there's always that fine line of going too far. You now, the line where you start to think it's about you -- and not about the issue on which you're being interviewed.

I'm not going to lie. Appearing on these shows was thrilling. I could tell you something different, but I might as well be trying to convince you that I don't want to win the lottery. C'mon! Who doesn't want to win the lottery?

But then I sit back and think that my opportunity for this exposure only came from the hellish ordeal of an innocent woman who was kidnapped and held hostage. Actually, to be accurate, the exposure came from her rescue, not the ordeal itself -- and the rescue is a happy thing.

I don't know what I feel. Should I feel proud that I got these interviews (that I didn't personally seek out)? Should I be ashamed if it appears that I took advantage and put myself forward as someone trying to get exposure due to her horrific experience? Should I have not said a word to anyone and hoped the interviews would go unnoticed?

Someone e-mailed me the other day to ask me if I was interested in co-writing a book on the story. I didn't think it would be a good idea. First of all, I wouldn't be able to co-write with anyone. (One of us would end up dead.) Secondly, I think it's way too soon, and she and her family should be in on that decision. As inspiring and dramatic as the ending was, it's not over yet. There's still a trial. There's still healing. She may want to just forget. And no one should write a book if she doesn't want a book written.

I've never met the woman I'm writing about. Maybe I never will. But if she's reading this, I hope she knows one thing: I hope I helped and didn't make things worse. And I know that thousands of others feel the same way. Whatever any of us did -- the tips to the police... the prayers... the vigils... the media coverage... even just keeping an eye out for you wherever we were -- well, we hope we helped.

And, one final thing: consider yourself hugged by an entire community, my dear! Welcome home.

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