By Dom Cioffi
I am a self-admitted news junkie. I’m not sure why. It could be due to over two decades of work in the newspaper and television industries. Or it could be just an innate desire to be knowledgeable on as many subjects as possible.
Whatever the case, I like the news. And I especially like breaking news. In fact, I’ll go through mundane periods when the news feed seems slow and start to wonder, “What’s going to be the next big story? What’s about to happen that is going to shock the city, the state, the country or the world?”
Inevitably, something always happens. It could be as epic as 9/11 or as pathetic as Ben Affleck leaving his wife for the babysitter. But nowadays it’s rare to have even a few days pass by without some event making major headlines.
Sometime last week I remember having one of those moments when it occurred to me that nothing much had happened recently. And then, almost by design, my computer lit up with alerts that two television reporters had been shot in Virginia.
The story has since shocked the country, not only for its brutality, but also in the way that it manifested through social media.
In short, while interviewing a local businesswoman live on the morning news, two reporters (one cameraman and one interviewer) were shot dead by a disgruntled ex-employee of the station they worked for.
I jumped into the story early, reading as much as was available online. I even saw the early video from the news station, which featured the actual camera footage from the cameraman who was murdered.
While little was visible (except for an eerie shot of the perpetrator that came into view once the camera was dropped), the unmistakable sounds of gunshots and screams more than made up for the lack of visuals.
I admit that I watched the video several times, becoming increasingly disturbed with each viewing. Having worked in television production and specifically in the news gathering arena, I was acutely aware of the scenario that these victims were in during the attack.
In fact, I was the guy with the camera on hundreds of shoots and on more than one occasion was the person holding the microphone as someone answered questions live on the air.
I’ve heard several people say since this brutal attack that they found it hard to believe that neither the news reporters or the person being interviewed saw the man approach them. But I can attest that during that scenario, the glow from the camera’s lights makes everything else in close proximity appear black. You are also trained not to let your eyes dart about when you see nearby movement as it may disrupt the flow of the interview.
Of course, the story took on an added level of shock when the shooter, who had since fled the scene of the crime, uploaded footage to his Facebook page that he took during the attack.
Apparently, in all his rage to kill these people, he was still savvy enough to hold up his phone’s camera to capture video while he executed them.
I also watched this footage. Once.
I can remember only one or two occasions in my life when the breath was literally ripped from my lungs, but that’s exactly what it felt like. It was easily one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever witnessed.
Like so many others, my heart goes out to the victims’ families as they try to deal with the profoundly senseless nature of this attack. In a sane and rational world, events like this should never occur, especially when it involves innocent young people who were making such positive use of their lives.
In this week’s film, “No Escape,” we witness another senseless attack that has a young family literally running for their lives during a brutal political uprising.
Starring Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan, “No Escape” puts the viewer front and center of a scenario that will have you ruminating over what action you may have taken under the same circumstance.
Better known for his romantic or comedic chops, Owen Wilson looks to be stretching his wings with a foray into a serious role full of action and intrigue. And while many actors have attempted this transition, few have pulled it off with the authority and purpose that Wilson did.
As much as I enjoyed the frenetic pace of this film (barring the slight over-use of the slow motion sequences), I must warn viewers that it is brutally violent and far from acceptable for a younger audience.
If you’re in the mood for a true action thriller and can handle the cruelty of terrorist acts, then give this one a shot. Just plan on spending most of the film on the edge of your seat.
A confining “B” for “No Escape.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected].