Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The queue of expectant travellers stretched down the entire length of the departure area, almost to the central court where the coffee stand sits. "Anyone going to Sydney?" asked an attendant dressed in fluorescent yellow. We made our way through the line of Melbourne-bound travellers and approached the desk, ticket receipt ready.

Then we had a coffee.

After a few minutes we parted and I left the air terminal into the darkness and rain. Outside, buses had started arriving. They formed a queue against the kerb. A few passengers from the cancelled flight JQ799 were getting on the buses. I assumed that the earlier queue had been for those passengers to collect sleepover vouchers from the airline - Jetstar - in preparation for staying overnight at a local hotel.

I wondered if there were enough vacant rooms locally to accomodate the whole queue of passengers.

The next morning I told mum about the waiting passengers. "Good story," she said. The story did not make the paper, however.

What kind of news can you make in a small town? It's an interesting question, and one I'll be forced to answer in coming months as I set up shop on the Sunshine Coast. If a cancelled flight is no cause for a story, why is a bird on a rock?

A motorist passing through Mooloolabah stops the car and parks, alights, and rushes back with a camera ready to snap shots of an osprey perched on a rock by the water's edge. They're great pictures, but I think a cancelled flight is more interesting. There are many issues. What kind of aircraft was it? Where was the last major service done? The weather - rainy for three days - is also a point of discussion of interest to local readers.

I see a story in The Sunshine Coast Daily - the local paper - about a flooded intersection, with a photo showing a car negotiating the flowing waters. Surely a cancelled flight would be news in a place where a flooded intersection is cause for a 200-word story?

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