Wednesday, April 11, 2007


The outpouring of emotion and interest in WFLA-TV meteorologist John Winter's death April 5 has even affected traffic to this blog. Dozens of visitors here have arrived through searches for his name since I mentioned my passing acquaintance with him last Friday.

Many of the search strings contain the same word: Why.

It's an even more vexing question when you see his picture, isn't it? I know that even the sunniest disposition can hide a dark side. But what the intellect knows and what the eyes see aren't always the same thing. And what your eyes tell you is that no one with a smile so cheerful could feel so low as to want to end it all.

More than 500 people packed his public memorial service yesterday according to the St. Petersburg Times article recounting the event, which also said that more than 14,000 people had signed the online guestbook the station had set up.

I wonder if Winter could have seen the reaction to his death whether it would have changed his mind about wanting to die. We'll never know. Nor will we know for sure the answer to the question everyone has asked, and continues to ask judging by the web searches, since we first heard how he died: Why?

St. Pete Times media critic Eric Deggans and others have written about the depression that friends say Winter suffered. I link to that particular entry in Deggans' blog because it contains another innocuous-sounding sentence that stood out to me: "Winter’s wife Karen declined to speak with me."

For her to decline, Deggans had to contact her. Calling new widows is one part of reporting that I do not miss. What some people see as the glamour of television came down too often to "bothering people on the worst days of their lives," as a friend still in the business perfectly described it. In a world in which more people can name the father of Anna Nicole's baby than can tell you the names of their representatives in Congress, people are going to want to know what the widow says. As long as they do, someone will be willing to call her and ask.

How can she answer when she's probably still asking the only one that matters -- and one she'll never understand.


On a lighter note, and perhaps another unsolvable mystery, someone in the last week also landed on my blog after searching for "topless donuts tampa".

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