7:45 am. I wake up suprisingly refreshed. I guess that means I didn't get called out last night. That's always nice. There are two good things about today. First, it is my Friday. Second, since I didn't get called out last night, I might actually have the energy to go out after work. I'm not placing bets on that one though, who knows what the day ahead has in store for me.
10 am. I walk into work. First things first, I load my gear into the truck, make sure it has suffient gas, and sit down to check my email. Not so quick. Before I even get a "hello" I'm told to be ready to leave in five minutes. No wonder I never respond to my emails. I guess if it was something important the person would have called me anyways.
The remainder of the morning is rather uneventful. I shoot a quick interview with Lance Armstrongs cycling coach for an enterprise series about training right. Apparently his collarbone is healing nicely and he is confident he will do well this week at the Giro. And, that's about it. I couldn't ask for a better Friday. That is until 1:00 rolls around.
At 1 pm I'm shooed out the door for the Criminal Justice Center. Two young men accused of brutally murding a 21 year old disabled person over an x-box game are being advised of their charges. I hate these things. I hate sitting at this nasty place. I hate the look on the families faces when they see their loved ones in orange jump suits. Hopefully no family members will show up.
It's now 1:30 and the advisement is about to begin. I'm plugged into the box on the wall, ready to roll. The audio sounds awful, but it's not an issue with my camera, so I'll just have to deal with it. I reach down to hit record when, "Who's is plugged in?" echoes accross the room. I look up, "I am." I say meekly. "Why?" "You don't have permission. Turn it off." Well, I guess that's the end of that. No more advisement. I unplug but stay put. At least I can get the information.
The first young man walks up to the camera. The judge informs him that he is being charged with first degree murder. There is no bond set. I hear weeping behind me and turn to see two women. One is a bit older then the other. Both are sobbing, reaching the point of being hysterical. There is a young man standing next to them, tell them it will be ok. I can't help but avert my eyes. I feel like I'm intruding on a personal moment. The advisement continues.
He is told that his next court date is set for May 18th, and asked if he understands? Then it's over. Done. I should probably try to talk to the family. If they say something to me I'll be the hero of the day. As I'm coiling my cables I contemplate at least getting some video of the family crying. I should. Afterall, it is my job. But I keep coiling the cables. What is stopping me from just pointing the camera at them and pressing record? I could just walk over and try to talk to them. I don't even need to bring the camera. But I don't do that either. If my boss finds out, I'm probably going to get a stern talking to. But I walk away, get into my car, and leave.
There is something about suffering that is terribly personal. I'm assuming the two women were this mans mother and grandmother. I can't imagine what they are going through right now. I'm sure they never imagined their little boy was capable of such an awful act. Or maybe they knew this day was inevitable. Either way, I have no place in that moment. I know that. They know that. But the news knows nothing about personal moments. As a medium, it is our job to insert ourselves into personal moments, capture it on tape, and broadcast it for the world to see. That's what makes good tv. But today I couldn't do it. One day after mothers day, I couldnt look this grieving mother in the eyes and pretend like I felt no sympathy for her suffering. I couldn't be part of it. So I walked away.
Did I do the right thing?? I don't know. I guess that depends on how we define right. Did I do my job, no. I knew that from the start. Hours later I'm still thinking about what I should have done. In my heart, I treated the person the way I would have liked to be treated. In my head, I can't get over the fact that I didn't do my job. I guess that's the tricky thing about news. Where does empathy and sympathy need to end, in order for us to deliver to our viewers the best news in town. How can we be humane and number 1 at the same time?
I guess only time will help me answer that one. Thank god I have the next two days off...