This is the in-case-you’re-curious post on why I’m doing this whole reporting on the Shale Gas Industry thing.
Visit beautiful Hughesville, Pa. and around 2 a.m., while wandering back from the Tavern, you might be lucky enough to see our version of a convoy. Five or six big Red Halliburton trucks you can hear coming from a mile away, piping shooting up into the sky that resembles an Escher drawing, one white pickup truck leading, another taking up the rear.
Hughesville gets this sort of traffic because it’s in the middle of the Marcellus Shale, where some say America will be getting most of its energy, in the form of natural gas, for the next 100 years. This industry is kind of a big deal.
While I was writing for the daily newspaper in Williamsport, for most of 2013, it was rare that we wrote a story about the Gas Industry unless it originated in a press release from some industry-related group; sometimes reports from environmentally-minded think tanks made their way into the paper’s pages.
At least five books have appeared in the last three years on the Marcellus boom. There are still stories galore not getting told about the gas industry, its glories and its discontents. Stories about people working in the industry; stories about those diligently opposed to the industry; stories about how the infusion of gas money is affecting those places from which the gas is pumped.
I want to tell stories from the human level, stories of “human interest.” Human interest stories get a bad rap, because busy journalists tend to lean on sentimental cliches when they write about, say, a local teen’s struggle with cancer, rather than the “hard news” of a shooting or house fire.
What “human interest” should mean is simply what has happened to people as the result of some phenom. The media tends to get all hot and bothered about how an event affects the Economy, the Government, the Election – all of these abstractions that runs the news cycle. How happenings affect people becomes a secondary concern.
I’m not going to get rich doing this, but it’s what I’m good at. For now, I’m using Beacon Reader to get my stories out there and get a little cash flow coming in to keep my old van running.
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