Desensitized

After the accident (link) this week, I’ve come to realize that I’ve become quite desensitized to scenes like that.

How do I know?

Friday morning, I told our part-time reporter, about what had happened. She had heard the call over the scanner before our weekly features meeting and saw me leave. She honestly wanted to know what happened and if the driver of the motorcycle was okay.

I told her what I knew and she just stared at me. I told her all the details: what I saw and what I heard. In a nutshell, I told her it was bad and I wasn’t sure of the man’s condition.

She looked bewildered and a bit shocked. She asked me if I was okay.

I told her I was fine and that it was just the adrenaline pumping while I was at the scene.

Still looking confused, she asked me if I was okay going to scene like that and seeing what I saw.

I said I was “fine” and it was just a part of my job.

Before I could finish, she said, “You’re smiling right now.”

Dumbfounded, I told her I felt awful for the guy and this wasn’t my first time at a bad scene.

I told her about the double stabbing (one died) months ago. She cringed the whole time and she left it at that. Thinking about it more now, she seemed a bit cross at my responses. I don’t blame her.

I was really taken aback by that conversation. The stabbing happened in February and I pretty much forgot that it had even happened. I don’t know why I was smiling while I was telling her either story. I had no idea that I was.

I’m going to be honest, that conversation makes me look like a monster. I know that. I’m not going to sit here and try to defend myself. Anyone I talked to Thursday afternoon would know exactly what I’m talking about.

I don’t “hope” for bad things to happen to anyone. I can promise you that. My writing still gets all of the emotions of the scene into the story. I don’t hold back in my writing when it comes to a bad scene or accident. I tell it how it is. It may not be the happiest or uplifting piece you’ve read all day, but I really try to put you at the scene of what happened. That’s my job.

I treat nothing as if it’s a joke. I take each accident brief very seriously and I think my coverage of the double stabbing is probably my best work.

With the murder in February, I had no time to really sit and think about what I had happened. One of our photographers and I, went to the scene for hours.  We were driving and walking around the area talking to neighbors and trying to get a good look at the scene. I don’t think I ever had “me” time after that one.

I don’t know when or how I started to get like this. It probably wasn’t a specific scene or incident. I’m assuming it started over time and I never realized it. I don’t know for sure.

I’m not trying to be “tough” or “macho,” at all. I still hug my mother and I still act like my brother’s real father. I love my family and friends and each of them knows it. I call my Nonnie, almost everyday.

I’m not proud of this post, but if I’m going to blog, I have to be honest with myself. I know full well that this post could make a lot of people upset or angry with me. That’s okay. I hope that this post can get everyone who reads and follows my blog to talk about journalism in a different way.

It’s not all about deadlines and getting that A1 story. It goes deeper than that.

Jonathan

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3 Responses to Desensitized

  1. Lauren says:

    Jon – I think you make a really good point here. Most people don’t know about the dangers and awful things that journalists are faced with daily. They don’t have direct access to a lot of scenes that you guys are
    reporting on and in a sense sometimes you have to fight for information to inform the public. When you’re reporting on an awful event people just want to know what happen and they forget about the work the people put into that story. Becoming desensitized doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a good journalist. If you became connected to every horrible scene you reported on you’d be a very emotionally-distraught person, which could in turn change your ability to report on a story without bias. I’m proud of you for what you do, and you’ve reminded me that when I’m reading a story, there’s a face and a person behind it, who wrote it and had to experience every detail.

    • Thanks Lauren!

      I think people have an idea, but they may not think about it. I’m not saying what I do is horrendous. I’m not in a war-torn climate nor am I seeing any of this on a daily basis.

      I agree with: “If you became connected to every horrible scene you reported on you’d be a very emotionally-distraught person, which could in turn change your ability to report on a story without bias.” I can’t come out and say that. If I were to say that I’d sound like a robot. It’s all about being as objective as possible. And I live by that. The TRUTH is key.

      Lauren, I love you. All of that means a lot. We read about Syria on a daily basis and we all need to sometimes take a step back and realize that there are journos there trying to get the information to the masses. They are on the front lines… just insane.

      Jonathan

  2. Pingback: Finding Your Own Way « Just Starting Out

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