A year in Swiss journalism (2012)


It’s not uncommon for sitcoms to do flashback shows to fill space in a down-time, nor is it rare for end-of-year lists to flood shows or websites as the clock ticks toward New Year’s.  In that spirit of “everyone else is doing it,” I am here putting forth a look back at my year.

The catch?  I wanted to compile a list of some of my most important stories covered in 2012.  It is almost cliché for a journalist to say this, but my job is one which provides a lowly chap with a microphone (me) the “golden ticket” to unseen territory.  This could give access to the proverbial boardroom to interview business leaders; this could open the doors of Parliament for stories on tax debates and refugee rights; or it could give me access to a deeply personal aspect of someone’s life, who trusts that I will do my utmost to respect and accurately portray whatever glimpse I am afforded.  It is the latter-most point that I relish the most.  Regular readers of this website will know I have a tendency to want to bring voice to those not often heard, or included in the greater society.  That’s cliché though, too, isn’t it?  “Giving voice to the voiceless.”  I hope the difference between my work and the cliché is that I actually do it.  I talked to asylum seekers hoping not to be deported, one of whom said he walked from Greece.  I experienced Cairo with a Swiss-Egyptian, seeing his childhood home and the rough streets which frame his memories.  I am not saying I speak with the roughest characters, or the most excluded in our society–there is no contest in exploring lesser-seen fringes of our society.  But in the end I feel my work has been fair, and accurate, contributing to the greater discourse of what is happening in our communities.  Below are some of my highlights of a year gone by…

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Seeking normalcy along tram tracks

One man's trash..

He walks with an air of confidence, of experience, and I feel those traits have been hard-learned by time living on the streets, and going through whatever it is that landed him there. I’ve never spoken to him, and I don’t know his name, but he’s a semi-regular character during my morning commute.

Mixed in with the well-dressed bankers, the manic and overly security-conscious tourists, and the occasional red-headed journalist, is this character sporting a long gray beard to his belt line, and long gray hair down his back; he saunters up and down the light-rail tracks with his eyes scanning the ground with a burning intensity. He’s well-equipped: a bulging day-pack looms from his shoulders, hiking boots, and outdoor clothing complete the look.  His image is like ZZ Top mixed with Bear Grylls, but with a life-hardened veneer.

If you were just to see him in passing, you probably wouldn’t know what he is doing.  Maybe you would think he is just another neurotic traveler pacing the tram platform.  But after a while of watching this man it is clear he is purposefully pacing, and searching intently for something.  And it isn’t for what you might first guess.

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Back to Reality

I saw a guy experiencing homelessness this morning, and I have seen him before. 

Often he has a shopping cart with 4 or 5 suitcases on it.  He dresses in brown, or maybe his suit jacket is just covered with the product of months or years of street life. 

There were no suit cases this morning. 

The man sat against the base of a concrete box in the train station, rocking with his hands between his thighs for warmth.

My cheeks were pierced with cold, so his must’ve been numb–his beard looked thin and disheveled, not helpful. 

His rocking was sad; his posture like a vertical fetal position wishing for the comfort of the womb. 

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