On One Hand

April 9, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 10:41 pm

When something becomes your work, you cannot look at it the way an impartial observer can. A filmmaker cannot look at a great movie and stand in awe of its beauty, considering the way he or she is moved by the subject matter. Instead the filmmaker is caught in the details of the trade; he or she will be analyzing the setting and the camera angles, judging each artistic aspect and keeping an eye out for mistakes, wondering if he or she can do better than the peer’s work on the screen. All film becomes a matter of ego, and to the filmmaker the piece is corrupted as pure art.

When your work is journalism, the ego that is film for the filmmaker now involves the whole world. A student at my university was recently found dead in a dorm, and as a reporter for the campus newspaper, I found out much sooner than most students when my editor called me asking if I had time to drop everything to cover the story. I set off to get the information early the next morning, and was soon thinking of follow-up stories that I could write addressing the school’s inevitable reaction to the death. I was relating to the event as it related to me, and was happy to see my name up on my newspaper’s website in an article that everyone would want to read. I was excited to be beating other newspapers to the story.

When I called my boyfriend to see if I would be staying at his place for the night, I let him know what was going on with the big new story. He paused the conversation to reflect on the death with sympathy. It had nothing to do with him – he played no role in the incident or its coverage – so he had the liberty to appreciate it for what it was: a tragedy. I, meanwhile, frenziedly told him about proposing a follow-up story to my paper’s editors about how the school would respond to the death.

I wonder how I would have spoken differently if I knew that Jesse Gomez’s ghost was hanging in my room, watching how I spoke of him as a subject matter that is part of a job. Of course the story has to be covered, and of course I am doing nothing wrong by covering it; the death of a young college student is newsworthy and important. Free and agressive news media are vital to a functioning society and make the world better for everyone. But it’s sad to think that, as a journalist, there is always this force preventing me from appreciating stories for what they really are.

Journalism, in many ways, corrupts you. Though you are still human and feel for the things you write about the way any person would, you are something less than human while you are doing your job, and you must be so in order to do it properly. You do not have time to pay the proper respect to the incident, and instead, reward centers light up in your brain when disasters happen. As new as I am to journalism, having never writing for anything more serious than a campus paper, I already feel effects of the job eating at my conscience, and it’s something I’ll have to struggle with as long as I am working in news.



  1. Dunno if this is negative in light of your main point, but I read about this story here before I saw it on 9new’s website.

    Comment by Anonymous — April 10, 2006 @ 5:19 am | Reply

  2. it was this boy, jesse in willard. you may already know that, but just fyi.

    Comment by hurley_chik — April 10, 2006 @ 4:28 pm | Reply

  3. Matt, you’re writing is just SUPER! It’s my first semester in college, and I really do hope that I’ll be an awesome writer,just like you, someday.

    Comment by Anonymous — April 11, 2006 @ 4:08 am | Reply

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