I’ve only been doing the journalism “thing” for a year now, and every day, I find that there is still much to learn. It’s not just about the law or how to get information, but things that are less tangible and lie on the inside of a young journalist’s conscience.
As journalists, we are often faced with situations where impudence can result in legal issues, loss of credibility, or, most importantly, a violation of our moral code. We must always be wary of how we cover stories but also what we cover. I often place myself in the situation of the story subject and how I would feel if a reporter was poking a microphone in my face. Contrary to popular opinion, journalists are human beings, and, at least in my experience, there is a deep battle between humanity and our necessity for the story. At times, I wonder if I am cut out for the career of journalism. I love the thrill of running down a story and opening up angles that no one else has thought to open. But, there is guilt inside when I feel that covering a story puts another human being in a position that I would not want to be in.
Today was a quiet day at Carroll Community College, a striking difference to the way it was over the weekend as hundreds or even thousands poured into the Great Hall to support the Book Fair. For me, my daily routine, sitting in the newsroom researching background for stories, was excitement enough.
Then, I heard someone shout “get the defibrillator” and the stomping of feet running past my door. I walked outside and peered over the balcony overlooking the Great Hall and saw security guards running towards the information desk, until a young man in a knit hat ran past them holding a defibrillator and shouting “he’s this way.” Security changed their course and sprinted upstairs to help a student who had collapsed.
The journalist in me needed to know what happened, but the human in me knew that it was a sensitive situation and poking my recorder in the faces of security or the collapsed student may lead to a situation that was graver than it already was.
My job is to provide news to the college community. And, I love that job, but sometimes, there are stories that we don’t tell. Not to hide them but because of something greater than full disclosure: decency.
Today, a student with a heart condition collapsed, and I will not publish his name, nor do I even know it. He was alive, and in time, I will do what I need to do to make sure that readers of The-Quill know how he is doing.
Perhaps I’m not doing my “journalistic duty” by not saying more. But, I am fulfilling my “human duty.” In the end, that is the most important thing because, without humanity, not only am I a journalist who lacks perspective on the stories that I cover, but I’m also a shell of person without a soul or hope. And, hope is what the very fabric of journalism is stitched with. Will all of our stories be cheerful? No, but by providing what is, we reveal what can be. That presence of hope brings journalism and humanity much closer than people give credit.
For now, the story is that the college has its heroes in its security team and student Dan Brover, who acted quickly and possibly saved someone’s life. If you see Dan or one of the security members, make sure to tell them “good job.”