ANGELA GREGORY: Marking a news era

Crowds gathers outside the White House in Washington early Monday, May 2, 2011, to celebrate after President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Crowds gathers outside the White House in Washington early Monday, May 2, 2011, to celebrate after President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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THIS edition of the Isle of Man Examiner marks the beginning of a new era for the newspaper.

It’s the first tabloid shape Examiner after a near 131-year broadsheet history.

I, for one, like it and hope you do too. Although it has the same amount of news in it as the broadsheet did, somehow it seems ‘newsier’.

It’s no secret that newspapers are having a turbulent time around the world for a variety of reasons.

But there are plenty of people who still really enjoy the prospect of getting their hands dirty with newsprint while poring over the issues of the day.

Hopefully our tabloid shape will make that a little bit easier and more enjoyable.

Talking of poring over world affairs, there hasn’t been a shortage of big stories to grab the attention of late.

No sooner had we finished being all royal last weekend, we were presented with the unexpected news that America had finally tracked down and killed Osama bin Laden.

Americans celebrated outside the White House and at Ground Zero in New York with their trademark, and some may say uninspired, chant of ‘USA, USA’.

For once, it didn’t make me cringe so much that I needed to lie down. This time, it made me cringe a bit but I managed to keep the TV on.

It was a fine example of revenge being best served cold.

As unexpected as it was for the watching world, I’m sure it was a lot more unexpected for Osama himself, who’d probably felt fairly comfortable in evading capture for quite some time at his compound, right next to one of Pakistan’s foremost military academies.

I understand why some people are questioning the US’s right to send Navy SEALS into another country without its knowledge to conduct an assassination.

But I can’t help thinking with a smile about that Navy SEAL who pulled the trigger and will probably – whether he admits it or not – relish for the rest of his days the look on the Al Qaida leader’s face as he realised what was happening.

The world certainly won’t miss Osama, who has made life so much more difficult to live thanks to the legacy of 9/11 and other atrocities – a global atmosphere of fear.

It really was a ‘where were you’ moment.

Boringly, I was at my parents’ house listening to the morning news on the radio. Tempted, as I sometimes shamefully am, to switch off after the Manx news has been read, I was contemplating reaching for the off button when Howard Caine told me about Osama.

Of course, I then went to find the telly remote and heard the first of the ‘USA, USA’ chants.

I love ‘where were you’ moments.

The human tragedy aside (if I sound callous, I don’t mean to be), it’s about knowing you are living through an historical event.

If you were personally a part of that event then you would clearly not be thinking in those terms but I’m talking about the goosebumps you get when you turn on the TV or the radio or the computer and realise something massive has happened.

Something that will change the course of history, something that will be written about in newspapers and books and that will be taught in the classrooms of the future.

It’s not about celebrating what has happened, far from it in the case of disasters and tragedies, but about acknowledging that these kind of events serve as the markers by which people live their lives.

If you were around when JFK was assassinated, you have the right to tell the story from your own viewpoint – once again, the ‘where were you’ retelling of the story.

If you’re too young, like me, you have to listen to the story rather than tell it.

I can tell you, for instance, that I had just walked into the bar of a Birmingham Hotel after seeing BB King in concert when I heard that Michael Jackson was dead.

We sat down with some complete strangers in the bar and talked about a popstar I didn’t really like that much but who I could acknowledge had changed the face of music.

When you recognise one of those world changing events happening, you know in future that you’ll have the right to tell people about it in your own first-hand way.

I was visiting my cousin in London when Princess Diana died and so was able to walk the streets, visiting St James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace, to experience the hysteria first-hand.

Whatever I felt about Princess Diana’s death, I took advantage of being at the centre of a massive world event.

Anyway, I’m sure this all sounds a bit odd to some people but I think others will understand what I mean.

And I think it’s also the reason why I enjoy being a news reporter so much.

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