On the Ground

It is indeed true: I'm back on an airplane. We are taking the show back "on the road" to Aruba (search). As you read this, I am headed south. Aruba is only a short distance from Venezuela — so the flight is long (including a change of planes.)

Over the weekend there have been several developments and we have a number of interviews set up about these developments. We could do the interviews remotely — from our studios in Washington, D.C. — but it is also true that we can do a better job if we actually go to Aruba and do the interviews in person.

Prior to doing the interviews — and what makes our work better when we go to a story — is that we actually visit the various scenes about which we talk. We meet many people who we don't interview but who educate us better about the events thereby making our work better. Our interviews are thus more intimate with the facts of the case and we get you closer to the investigation. There is nothing like seeing it with your own eyes and if you can't be there to see it with your own eyes, the next best thing is for the anchor to do it and attempt to place you there.

Going to the scene also allows for us to pick different topics within an investigation to discuss. Like you, I am curious. If I spend four hours driving around and going to different parts of the stories, I know what really grabbed MY attention so I figure it will likewise grab you. I figure that if you are watching the show, you share the same sort of interest in these investigations as I do. Of course the best of all would be to be at the location when the news is received that the missing person is alive and well... I would love that as anyone in the media would.

As you know from prior blogs, when you cover missing person stories at the scene (rather than from a studio,) you get to know the family very well and you really, really, really want them to get good news. While we can do our jobs professionally under these circumstances, it is undeniable that you do get close to the story and to the families.

When I land, I am getting picked up by one of my producers and going straight to our first "walk and talk." We have been talking all weekend making these plans because we want to do it before our 10 p.m. show on Monday (so that we can show you.) After the show, which you know ends at 11 p.m., we may also "hit the road" for another taping of a walk and talk. Yes, it is exhausting, but there is also great pleasure in doing a great job and we want to bring you as much information as we can.

As an aside, Aruba feels very safe to me and that is the comment that I hear from all the tourists there. I suppose because this disappearance is so odd and out of the ordinary is one of the reasons we are covering it so closely. If this happened all the time in Aruba, you would probably not know anything about this. Bottom line: Aruba seems safe to me and it is gorgeous. Of course we don't get to enjoy the island since we are so busy working but we do get to see out the car windows the beautiful places as we race from interview to interview.

Here are some random e-mails from viewers:

E-mail No. 1

Hi Greta,
Re: Aruba — They claim that the Van der Sloot parents have been interrogated by police. My concern and question is were they interrogated or coached? Aruba seems to be far more concerned about their tourist image than the Holloway girl.
Obviously to the world now the Aruba Police are inept at finding a live person on their island. We all know if we wait long enough for the body to bloat someone will find it from the odor but I don't consider that as good police work and definitely not a safe place to vacation or spend tourist dollars.

E-mail No. 2

Dear Greta,
A few years ago my daughter graduated from High School and asked to go on a school graduation trip. That's how it was presented. I read the information and put a deposit down on the trip. However, after further investigation, I found out that the trip had nothing to do with the school and was put on by an outside travel agency. None of the chaperones were even a part of the school and the school would take no responsibility for the trip at all.
After careful consideration of all the information, I canceled the trip. We told our daughter that if anything happened to her she would be out of the United States and it would be difficult to work with another government. We felt that a graduation trip is a unique trip because this would be a celebration trip and therefore the kids would not react in the same way they would if it was a trip under different circumstances. She was not happy with that answer. But today after seeing the story of Natalee, she did say that now she understood our points.
After seeing how the Aruba government has conducted this investigation, it's not a place that I would look forward to visiting. Granted this may be unusual, I just would not feel protected in any way if there was any kind of situation that I would have to rely on the government's help. For the same reason I no longer travel to Mexico.
Thank you

E-mail No. 3

I have a message for Aruba… let the FBI take over the thus far sloppy Natalee Holloway investigation or we Americans (your largest and most lucrative source of tourism dollars) promise to BOYCOTT your island as a vacation destination, putting the vast majority of your population out of work and driving your economy into the ground. I speak directly to the prime minister of Aruba when I say: It’s way past time for you to do the RIGHT THING, and the whole world is watching. Make the right decision because your reputation and the future of Aruba are at stake... and missteps in a situation as delicate as this will NOT be forgotten.
Annette Gobel
Panama City Beach, FL

E-mail No. 4

Hi Greta,
I'll be touching a few subjects, so please bare with me. By now the disappearance of Natalee Holloway has received worldwide attention. With this in mind, and watching the coverage; it made me think about why other countries hate America. Every talk show host and their guest — and yes, the out of work lawyers on your show also — have engaged in Aruba police bashing. People from other countries are aware how long it took to bring the unabomber to justice; the Catholic priests; the highway snipers, the way the 2000 election had to be decided by the courts, and now we find out that there's a child molester that has been on the loose for years. Foreigners view Americans as arrogant and selfish, always trying to tell others how to get their house in order, without cleaning their own. So, when we ask the question, "Why do those people want to bomb and kill us?" It's because of our arrogance and selfishness. Get your house in order first.
Jackie Dixon
Vallejo, CA

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