The Digging Has Begun!

I hate handshake shots. I never shoot them. It’s “staged news”–usually presented with the staging element invisible to the viewer which only makes me hate them more.

Think of a photo that might be captioned “The President shares an quiet moment with the First Lady” and you get one idea. And then see the wide angle version of the same shot with fifty press photographers forming a wall of cameras and flashes just inches from the President’s and First Lady’s faces and you get the idea of what I am talking about.

Next thing you know a generation of reporters have been conditioned by the easy pickings and live almost entirely off of such staged news events. Add in your sensational fires and crimes and, bingo, that’s what passes for news at most television news stations and newspapers. It’s no wonder viewers and readers are abandoning these “traditional” outlets like fleas from a drowning dog. They still serve a need, of course–it is just that the need they serve isn’t our need.

But this morning a friend came by on the way to the Caltrans tunnel opening event and invited me along–and so I went.

And I had fun. Congressman Lantos gave an excellent speech contrasting today, the anniversary of the completion of the drafting of the Constitution, with the tunnel, a smaller example of the People working their will. Supervisor Rich Gordon and State Senator Leland Yee also gave very nice talks. So good were all three that I regretted not bringing my video camera. Sorry.

And then the photo op. Videographers and photographers can be terribly uninventive. If you are running an event and want to control the coverage, all you have to do it offer a good visual, the photo opportunity, and *that* will be the image they run, the clip they makes the airwaves.

In this case the organizers were planning to have a image of Lennie Roberts–the citizen-leader of the movement to substitute the tunnel for the “bypass” (read: four-lane highway through Montara into Moss Beach)–working the controls of the digging machine to make the first scratch into the mountain to begin the tunnel. Now look at the coverage on the television and local papers and we’ll compare notes about how many used that image–and ponder the independence of the press.

But it was good to see Roberts getting credit, and April Vargas was there who also deserves our applause (along with many others).

For me, the digging of the tunnel marks a more important moment in our coastal history. It was the tunnel that galvanized the citizens of our community and led to the formation and strengthening of local political groups. Wavecrest then added fuel to that fire, dividing the coast into “developers” and no-growthers” even more.

The digging of the tunnel has begun. Wavecrest is about to change ownership to POST. Two great victories for activists along the coast. But now the great challenges are gone. The challenges that brought people together have been overcome. What now?

See a gallery of photographs from the event in our Photo Gallery.

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Photos by Darin Boville

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