The journalists that dig deep spend all their time bartering in the dark, luring the devil to the surface. The devil usually wins.
There are some rare news stories that need to be mined, excavated and beat the hell out of in order to see the light of day. I’m pretty sure the Chilean mining story — which if you haven’t heard, involves the rescue effort to save 33 Chilean miners stuck underground for 2 months — has all the metaphors of that kind of story but involves none of the herculean effort. Instead, what we’re seeing is money, politics and media collapsing together in a chamber that smells nauseatingly dank and sweet. The New York Times front-page piece self-consciously captures all of that even as it rides on that media frenzy,
[The Chilean President Sebastian] Piñera, a billionaire businessman who is one of Latin America’s most conservative leaders, staked his presidency on the effort. It has involved untold millions of dollars, specialists from NASA and drilling experts from a dozen or so countries. Some here at the mine have compared the rescue effort to the Apollo 13 space mission, for the emotional tension it has caused and the expectation of a collective sigh of relief at the end.
Tuesday was a day of great excitement and last-minute delays. As Mr. Piñera [waited anxiously near the rescue hole, the families of the miners and more than 1,300 journalists gathered around plasma televisions set up at the makeshift tent city near the mine, which vibrated with a carnival-like atmosphere as the rescue drew near. At one point, Mr. Piñera mingled with the families and even broke into song with them.
Gustave Doré, INFERNO 17, The Descent of the Abyss on Geryon’s Back
And there’s this precious quote by the second miner that emerges in the Times piece. A joyous Mario Sepúlveda says, “I’ve been near God, but I’ve also been near the devil. God won.” I want to make appointments with that beast, pencil them into my notebook very neatly and calmly. The journalists that dig deep spend all their time bartering in the dark, luring the devil to the surface. The devil usually wins. In his charismatic way, he tosses his hair, recites variations of Dante, “If I thought that that I was replying to someone who would ever return to the world, this flame would cease to flicker. But since no one ever returns from these depths alive, if what I’ve heard is true, I will answer you without fear of infamy.”