Cheers, Jack

In my line of work, I'm as close to the frontline of news as someone can be without being out in the field. I'm learning news as it happens; literally reading bits of developing stories as journalists get the words out.

Learning news faster than I can type gives me bragging rights at being the first in the know. As one friend who didn't quite understand my job once said, "I just thought were you the news."

This morning I was among those watching CBC News Network who witnessed Peter Mansbridge step into the regular morning reports to announce the death of NDP leader Jack Layton. It was an odd and sad moment, and certainly a story that was going to change the course of my work day.

Instead of following the developments in Libya where rebels have taken over Tripoli, I was consumed with reminiscence of Jack.

Due to the nature of my job, I'm constantly following Twitter and social media. As I listened in shock to Mansbridge revealing the news, I tweeted a little note, simply: "Sad day for the NDP." A moment later, the announcement was out in the ‘twitterverse’. 

And just like that, I felt like I needed to step back from the media. Of course being at work, and at the start of my shift, I couldn't very well step back. In fact I had to dive in, as I always do, and spend the next seven hours listening, reading and sifting through stories and tributes dedicated to Jack.

Now, at the end of my day, I sit at home and I'm emotionally drained.

I need to go beyond the broadcast and print coverage of Jack’s death. I need to join other human beings and actually figure out my own reaction.

On any given day, I love being at the forefront of current events to feed my news addiction. But today, I just want to be like everyone else. I want to limit my knowledge of how friends and colleagues are feeling. I just want to be in the crowd with the other supporters, and take a moment to pay my respects to an awfully inspiring leader of an awfully great party.

Back in 2005 I attended a tsunami relief event at Babylon Nightclub. It was their regular reggae night but all funds were going to the Boxing Day disaster in South East Asia. Unexpectedly, but quite awesomely, Jack Layton showed up and spoke to the crowd of 20-somethings. Not only did he praise our willingness to help those in need, he joined us in a salute and downed a full pint of beer, much to the chagrin of his staffers off to the side. Although I didn’t get the opportunity to meet him that night, I immediately developed an admiration for this human politician.

Here's to Jack.

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