I got an emergency alert for a school bus fire in a nearby town today, so I rushed to the scene, camera at the ready. It turned out to be not such a big deal, but as I approached the first uniformed officer I saw to get some information about what was going on, an older gentleman the cop was talking to turned to me.
“You a news photographer?” he asked. Not quite, but sure. “Yeah,” I said.
“You gonna make this look way worse than it is?” he asked me.
“No, sir,” I said.
“Yeah, that’s all you guys do, all over the country,” he said.
“OK,” I said, and headed over to the captain on duty, who referred me to his chief. I ended up filing the story either way, pretty much noting that everybody did a good job and everything turned out OK. There weren’t even any kids on board.
I was a little bit sore about the way that random dude treated me, but you know what? It’s OK. It’s probably healthy in this business that sometimes, people make you feel like an asshole. It keeps you from acting like an asshole. It was Janet Malcolm who said:
Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible.
So there’s that.