Monday, August 6, 2007

Just part of the job?

I have heard that in order to survive in the world that is journalism, you have to separate yourself from what you are doing. And, especially if that story involves death. On Friday, I was sent to a car accident scene about 10 miles south of Oconomowoc on a dangerous stretch of road. In fact, I had been there the previous Friday for a head-on collision between two semis.

This past Friday it was a really bad accident between two cars. One car was going southbound when the driver pulled into the northbound lane to enter a driveway and hit the northbound car head on. When I arrived at the scene, I knew it wasn't good from the info coming across the police scanner in the office. After talking with gawkers and getting the police officers' attention, I walked around and took pictures. I then waited for some one from the Sheriff's department to come over and fill me in. What no one told me, but what I suspected, was that some one may have died.

After getting a bunch of photos, including one of a bloody airbag, I left the scene. On my way back, I phoned in my info to the Freeman so they could update the website. The editor told me that one of the drivers probably died. That later proved to be true.

After I hung up, I began to think about how I was at an accident scene where a driver had just died and how I never thought about the weight of the situation. I just did my job. In the past, when I would hear sirens screaming up north highway 67 past my house, I would say a prayer asking God to be with the rescue workers, the injured people and their families. And now, here I was at a scene where not 15 minutes before someone died and I didn't give it a second thought. I know that you have to be tough-skinned to make it in this business, but how tough skinned? I don't want to become an emotionless individual who ignores the human aspect of a story. The idea of it scares me. I have always prided myself on being a feeling, thinking, compassionate and helpful person. I don't want to stop being that just because I am a journalist. In fact, it was my desire to help those less fortunate that even led me into journalism.
So, on my way home, I said a prayer as I drove. I prayed for the emergency workers, for the drivers of the cars and for their families. I asked God to give everyone strength and courage. I aim to say a prayer for similar situations in the future. For me, that's the compassionate and right thing to do.
"Anyone who dares to waste one hour of life has not yet discovered the value of life."
--Charles Darwin

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