Wednesday, March 23, 2016

News Stories that have impacted me

(Photo via Matt Popovich)

Growing up, my grandfather always used to play the 6 o'clock CBC news and watch it religiously. For their generation - having lived through numerous wars - watching the evening news was a priority. Back then, there was just the 6 o'clock news before dinner, not like the 24/7 news channels we have available nowadays - plus, the internet - which is an unlimited news source. In my parents' home, it was completely different. My dad reads the New York Times and the London Times on the weekend, but doesn't watch TV regularly. Either way, in our family, we regard it as a strength to be informed of what is going on in your city, your country, and the world.

Sometimes I come across certain news stories that just speak to me. Why is that? The way we can become fixated on a case, even though we have never met the person. We may not even have anything in common with such people. But for some reason, it reaches out at our heart and grabs us. There have been a lot of news stories that have affected me like that.

A few weeks ago, Maple Batalia's murderer was finally sentenced in court. The first time I heard about Maple was at my 26th birthday party dinner, when my aunty asked if I heard the news that a young girl was shot at the SFU campus. At the time, I was pregnant with Maya but didn't know. I followed Maple Batalia's case for the past 4.5 years. It was just so tragic. Maple was absolutely stunning with a bright future, and lovely parents. My heart broke every time I heard them on TV. Maple was stalked and harassed by her ex-boyfriend, culminating in him stabbing and shooting her outside her university campus. Metro Vancouver was very affected by this news story, and it raised a serious discussion about domestic violence in general, and especially in the South Asian community. Last week, her murderer was sentenced to life in prison, which was unusual considering he only killed one person, but the judge/jury thought it was necessary due to the domestic violence aspect.

Another case that I have been recently obsessed with is the O.J. Simpson murder trial, thanks to the incredible new show: American Crime Story: The People vs O.J. Simpson. The show is so well done [I watch it HERE]. Back then, I was too young to understand the fascination of the O.J. trial, but now I absolutely do. It's also a six degrees of separation thing - I was in San Francisco with my parents during the infamous Ford Bronco chase. I ate something bad and kept vomiting, so my parents took me to the downtown ER and I was in the next room to O.J's mother who was having heart palpitations after seeing her son on TV! Needless to say, I don't remember it, but my parents still talk about this day.

Another story that I was really into was the Boston Marathon Bombings, thanks to CNN's live coverage - it played out like a live game of cat and mouse on TV. It got much more coverage on the U.S. TV stations than the Canadian ones. I was on maternity leave, so I had all the time in the world, obviously. I felt even more of a connection when it was revealed that the bombers were from Russia - in an area not far from where my grandmother was from. Why did they do it? Two young kids with their whole life in front of them. The older brother had a young daughter. It was just crazy. How did they get radicalized? Nobody will ever know...

After I first moved back to Vancouver, a local news story scared the crap out of me - the murder of Wendy Ladner-Beaudry when she was running in Pacific Spirit Park. I used to walk in that park all the time and it was very safe. She was murdered on a Friday afternoon in the busiest corner of the park, in broad daylight. To this day, her murder is still unsolved, and her killer is roaming free somewhere out there. Since then, I've only seen women walking in groups in the park, however there are tons of men who walk alone in the park aimlessly. The park has an eerie, unsafe feeling after Wendy's murder.

Back when I was in college, two news stories effected me - the Amanda Knox murder trial, and the Natalee Holloway disappearance. The Amanda Knox case was riveting to watch. Did she or didn't she? She looked quite sociopathic in her behavior. Having spent so much time in Italy, I was really shocked by this story. Natalee Holloway's disappearance was also such a mystery, it seemed as if she vanished into thin air. At the time, I was in college and my friends and I were always planning trips to Miami, so it hit close to home since she was almost the same age as me. At the time, I was living in the U.S. and these cases got a lot of coverage.

And of course, more recently was the Nirbhaya gang rape/murder, which made every girl and woman in India feel unsafe. I was no stranger to Delhi, having been many times. At the time of her murder, she was the exact same age as husband-ji's cousin-sister, and I used to worry for her all the time. Not only that, but it made me worry for my own daughter. Would she have a future in India? Luckily, the case was high profile so it ended up evoking a national conversation about women's rights, rape, and the government made a more severe punishment for such crimes.

Many of these stories have no happy ending - many are unsolved. It's also weird how the murderers were made famous, as opposed to the victims who become forgotten - Ron Goldman, for example. It is haunting so see the families of such victims - it is terrifying to think that any of these things can happen to the average person on any given day.  Another common denominator among all these cases is that the vast majority of these crimes were committed by men. It is true that most women walk around in a constant state of fear of men, especially stranger men, because we just don't know when they will snap ("we can't help but think, "Which one of us? And when?" ).

Many of the stories were sensationalized by the news, with people becoming tragic heroes or infamous villains. It is compelling to see how these crimes play out, with new updates in the cases over the years. It is also interesting to note which stories get more coverage in each country. Canadian news focuses on predominantly local and national news; whereas all the American channels are filled with the election nonsense; and BBC/European news is all about the Syrian Refugee Crisis. The Michael Brown shooting, which was huge in America, got very little coverage on Canadian/European news stations.

What about you guys? What news stories effected you strongly? And why?
Do you watch the news regularly?



  1. Al Jazeera is the way to go for networks. I prefer the way the BBC and AJ do international news. I feel like CBC radio can underplay the impact of the international stories they play.

    Rajiv Gandhi's assassination was the first political murder on my radar growing up. I was shocked at the sheer ferocity of it and was surprised how much of it I remembered when I visited his home as an adult.

    9/11 I experienced as an adult on live TV as it happened. It was interesting to see as a young adult how much (or little actually) young adults who were raised in the West knew about the US' actions around the world. I also remember that Much Music did interviews trying to make sense of it. It seems a silly thing to do; but still, Strombolopoulos (a VJ on Much then and a host on CBC now) managed to make it sound serious (always a good sign of career potential to show that versatility) and that one of the Backstreet Boys, of all people, said that it should be a time for self reflection in America, which was very big of him.

  2. Great post. I also enjoy watching and reading the news. It's important to society for all of us to be educated on local, national and international news. I wish that the local news channels in America were better at reporting on international news. And, I absolutely agree that we could expand our coverage from so much election news. While this is important, there are so many other news worthy stories that get lost.


  3. @Alexandre

    something hundred times more horrific than nirbhaya case has happened in india last month. In the northern state of haryana a violent agitation was going on. The protectors burned schools, colleges and shops. They were demanding reservation for jats in government jobs.

    as the protest got violent, people passing through a highway were attacked during the early hours of February 22. The vehicles were burned, people looted and women were dragged into nearby fields and raped. more like mass gangrapes. among the women there were many nri women going towards punjab.

    The victims lay in the fields and were given clothes by the villagers and later reunited with their family members.

    This country is not fit for living anymore. those who can should leave this country immediately.

  4. these gangrapes happened at a place called murthal in haryana which is frequented by Delhi people for its restaurants.

    The incident came to light when women's undergarments and clothes were found near the highway. later a prominent newspaper broke the news.

    Alex, since u are interested in women's issues connected with India, it would be good if u write a post regarding this awful incident and create awareness.

  5. From my recent memory, the Delhi gang rape impacted me a lot.

    Another news story I follow a lot is the EU refugee crisis and IS stuff intermittently. As visa issue and pressure are at the forefront of my life right now, I developed some urge to follow stories where people seem to be struggling for a visa. IS news is terribly depressing.

    From my childhood, I remember the news story of death of princess Diana. Everybody seemed to talking about it. That and 9/11.

    Lately, I am just tired of the negative spiel coming from the news, especially Indian news. Nothing gets done but there is ton of useless drama and exaggeration. Also, I don't know who or what to believe anymore. Seems like same shit day in and day out. So, I have been cutting back on news and just looking at major headlines.


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