People who cover news develop thick skins. When you have to regularly submit your work to the world at large, which is full of experts and critics, all the while maintaining a perspective from outside a story, such a step is almost a necessity. I say almost, because I suppose it's theoretically possible to remain as sensitive as a newborn and still stalk down and bring back the sometimes-grim facts that are the news. But I've never seen anyone pull off that trick; my apologies to anyone who might have done it.
Yet there are times that the snarkiest, most hardened journalists are just stopped. Our skin weakens, our steely resolve is exposed for the bluster that it is, and we are just stopped, hollowed, by what we see. Yesterday was one of those days.
The images from New York, Washington and Pennsylvania that we all know far too well would scythe through the thickest psychological skin. Usually, a tragedy opens the sluices of journalistic instincts, and we run, literally or figuratively, to cover the story. Yesterday's acts (calling them tragedies weakens them by cliché, so I'll call them acts and let the reader supply the impact) just left me weak. In the span of a few minutes, the fact that the world is getting smaller through an electronic and communication revolution went from being a boon to being a gaping hole in the collective mental security blanket most of us carried around like corporate Linuses. But the connected Web technology that allows an engineer to collaborate with a remote installation also lets a bad person access flight schedules and plot bad things.
And the B2B/supply chain world was touched by those acts, both psychologically and literally. While this is a very incomplete list, at least three companies Securant Technologies (recently acquired by RSA Security), ABN AMRO and Dun & Bradstreet had offices in the World Trade Centers. For obvious reasons, no attempt has been made to contact representatives of these companies. But our thoughts and prayers go out to these companies.
In addition, almost every aspect of business in America and the world was touched by the actions carried out yesterday. Accordingly, the news coverage today is light, and will likely remain so for at least a while, until the financial world recovers.