Reality Check: When journalists become part of the story
The job of a journalist has a couple of simple rules.
Number one: Be an objective observer of events.
Number two: Don’t make yourself a part of the story.
Journalists see some pretty remarkable things in the course of their careers. Like first responders, the impulse is to head toward danger instead of away from it.
You get up close to a lot of amazing stories—sometimes, a little too close.
Occasionally, while observing rule number one, journalists have found it necessary to break rule number two.
We’ve seen reporters rescue flood victims.
Save animals from wildfires.
And, protect victims in the middle of street riots.
On Monday, two KTVA journalists broke rule number two-- and thank goodness they did.
In case you missed it, Joe Vigil and photojournalist Jared Mazurek stationed themselves on the bike trail outside JBER, warning cyclists of an agitated moose protecting newly-born calves.
Vigil had checked on the moose earlier in the day, on his own time, and took photos of the moose’s increasing aggressiveness.
So, in the afternoon, while keeping a safe distance-- and out of sight of the angry mom-- Vigil began to warn cyclists about the moose. Meanwhile, another KTVA photojournalist was set up across the highway, where he had a clear view of the moose family.
Suddenly, cyclist Andrew Eker appears on the bike path-- and the moose responds.
With Eker helpless on the ground and the moose growing increasingly angry, to the objective observer, what was about to happen would be devastating to Mr. Eker.
It was then that Vigil and Mazurek broke rule number two.
In that critical moment, they stopped being journalists and became part of the story-- literally putting themselves between the moose and the cyclist.
No camera or microphone, just two Alaskans coming to the aid of their fellow man. And no, it was not staged.
Thankfully, Eker was shaken but unhurt and all ended well.
The reality check here?
If you’re a cyclist, don’t ever get too close to a momma moose and her two calves. And, if you’re a journalist, remember sometimes the right thing to do is break some rules.
Questions or comments about this editorial? Email John Tracy.
John's opinions are his own and are not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.
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