The Big Picture

Many of us have seen the sensational, almost cartoon-ish, bit of video from earlier in the week that shows William Strier (search) taking shots at his attorney, Gerald Curry, at ridiculously close range.

It almost looks like Yosemite Sam going after Bugs -- and the good news is that Strier was a lousy shot.  Curry lives, and his assailant is in jail. But many of you have e-mailed me with another question: Why did so many journalists just stand around and watch?

The tape seems to show cameramen and others racing to capture pictures of the shooter, rather than to capture the shooter himself. But looks in this case are misleading.

The view through a camera is much like the view through a narrow tube. You miss at least five-sixths of the picture. As it turns out, television crews and reporters played a key role in stopping and apprehending Strier -- but the one camera on the scene missed that part because it was focused on the would-be killer.

There's a moral here for reporters and viewers: Pictures are compelling. They convey vast amounts of information instantaneously. But they never deliver the whole story.

That's why reporters should never rely solely on pictures, even dramatic ones -- and why viewers always should have in the back of their minds that old Paul Harvey question: What's the rest of the story?