Reporters describe what they see, they quote witnesses and people involved and their images record what has happened, but it will never replace reality.
That was reinforced for me yesterday when I was in Christchurch for a meeting at the new Press building in Gloucester St, just one block off the Square in the central city. Red zone.
The Press has moved into a gleaming white seven-storey building backing on to its old site in the Square. That site is a large, gravel car park with not a sign of the beautiful old building.
It is the first business in that part of town to be reoccupied and is surrounded by flat, vacant lots and high-rises still boarded up awaiting demolition or rebuilding.
It was my first trip into central Christchurch since the first quake. It is an industrial zone, a massive construction site.
Driving along the once-clogged Gloucester St was easy - blank traffic lights, few other vehicles, only a few humps to dodge.
I have read and seen thousands of news reports about the devastation caused by the quake, and have seen the damage in other parts of the city, but none of it prepared me for something I would expect to see in Syria or along the Gaza strip.
It has given me new admiration for the Cantabrians who are rebuilding their city and their lives. The people in the Press building are happy to be back in the central city; they feel they are leading the way and are at the heart of many good things to come.
Good on them.
- The Marlborough Express