Friday, November 16, 2007

The Hard News

As previous blog posting show, these past few months have been filled with lots of sports and action shots--but today's assignment was a different kind of action. The news broke this morning that a local man had been found shot dead in his home, which is in the school district. Police have yet to determine whether the death was suicide or homocide, according to numerous news reports, but either way covering this story felt very different from anything else.

I've covered crime, I've covered arrests and courts, I've covered bomb threats and drug busts, but never anything involving a person dying.

On the scene earlier this afternoon was a police officer in a cruiser and another photographer from a local daily. I snapped some shots of the crime tape in the foreground and the front door of the house in the background, but I spent much of the time talking to these professionals about not this specific incident, but about "hard news" in general, and, for that matter, life in general.

The officer and photog were joking around, chatting. The photog then remarked that, to perhaps a neighbor, having an officer and reporter small talking in front of a house where a person died is insensitive, rude. But he then said the most important thing, for me at least. He said that despite the horrors of what reporters cover (he had just finished from covering the double fatal on 202), you cannot get too attached; almost, you can't take everything to heart. That's not to say not be sensitive, but with the frequency of these tragedies it is often better to just be detached, and be able to stay upbeat and keep a sense of humor.

As the case moves forwards, and as detectives make determinations as to what actually happened in this death, it will be surely interesting to cover, if in fact the case results in charges being filed. I've covered courts and the police, but never in the case of a death.

But I'll have to remember that despite the tragedy of this incident, despite the frightening fact that it happened in such close proximity to the school, I must strike the balance between being detached and not getting too upset by the incident, while being empathetic to the family. But, judging by the fear expressed by students who live near the shooting, the story is important, and for that reason, it must be told.

1 comment:

Susan Houseman said...

An important lesson to learn; impressive that you understand the ethos and pathos of journalism while still in high school.