Wednesday, May 20, 2009
One of the things I dread most as a reporter, more than the day long town council meetings, or the disapproving sniffs , real or imagined, of the elderly when I'm the only one who doesn't know the hymns at the myriad of Christian-type events I cover, even more than the prospect of interviewing someone whose longest answer is a two syllable version of the word, "Nope" is the sound of the air raid-like siren that can be heard all over town whenever the fire department is about to head out.
You might think it would add some excitement to my day, but I'll take any of the above assignments over chasing the fire truck.
In fact, in the year that I've been here, I've only ever done it once. It was during my first few weeks here and I was the only reporter in the office when our scanner went off.
The ladies in the office all looked at me expectantly until I broke down and asked, "So, um, should I be doing something about that?" They insisted that I should go investigate.
So I drove out, whispering "Please be nothing, please be nothing, please be nothing" to the steering wheel, picturing myself all the while as a vulture with a car and a camera where wings and a beak should be.
It turned out to be an accident on a private farm. My mind instantly conjured up all the horrible things various types of farm equipment could do to a person and I knew, job or no job, there was no way I was going near it, so I circled once and flew back to the office.
Since then, I've actually managed to avoid chasing the fire truck altogether but it's amazing to me how often people think I should be on the scene of an accident, getting pictures of wrecked cars and broken bodies.
It's a strange responsibility, deciding what people should or shouldn't see. I remember when my neighbour was killed in a car accident, photos of the twisted and barely recognizable vehicle made the front page of our local paper. Maybe what we imagined happened to him would have been worse, but I don't think so. Seeing what he must have been trapped in was really horrifying.
I suppose it might have sent some people a warning, but I feel like we're so used to images like that, that the only people that image would have really effected where the people who knew the victims. I feel like it might have done more harm than good. If the paper had just run the story without the picture, I would have seen the headline, and maybe chosen not to read the gory details, but with the photo staring me in the face, there was no way to avoid them.
I know a picture paints a thousand words, but sometimes I don't think they need to be painted.
Posted by Sarah at 11:12 AM