The last and final week of being a reporter at the Columbia Missourian has come. After seven weeks, I went from a timid writer who only gravitated towards visual stories to wanting to use the skills I have developed on more complex and informative ones.
The Missourian hasn't seen the last of me, though. Next fall I will be a photo editor for the newspaper, and I am beyond excited because I've gained so many skills as a reporter that helping staff photographers write gallery descriptions or photo captions will be a piece of cake.
The fellow reporters are all so talented, and I think I gained a lot of motivation from them. I am thankful for all the new people I have met and a new perspective of the Missourian outside of the photo department. I never really thought that I could work as a newspaper, and I still think I don't have what it takes, but I know now that I'm at least capable of being a news reporter if thrown into it.
Honestly, this summer I worked on three videos, which is more than I ever did in staff. I can honestly say that I'm a multimedia journalist now!! I really happy that I was able to still do photography while reporting for the newspaper, and I'm really happy with all the experience and knowledge I have gained these past seven weeks.
Coming into this, I was discouraged to the idea that we even had to take this class even if we are on the photojournalism track. But honestly, I think that I will be a better photojournalist after this class. All these photos were taken in the past seven weeks, and it's great that I was able to photograph and report at the same time. I think it helped my caption writing and also gave me a better way to break the ice with people and start talking to them from photographing them.
In our last lecture for the class, we focused on how we should make ethical decisions. We face them all the time as journalists, and I think that understanding learning how to make good ethical decisions will definitely come in handy.
We had a discussion about the Oregonian's story about Luke Heimlich and how his juvenile record came back to him. Since I have read the article and the Oregonian's explanation for publishing it, I have not had a good feeling in my gut about the whole situation. It's difficult to look at the situation at all sides, which is why I think this article was really great to engage conversation. Our class had a constructive discussion about the ethical decisions that were made about publishing this article about Heimlich.
There were many arguments that were made. I would say that a third of the class emphasized the life of the victim, a third emphasized the life of Heimlich, and the last third gave a more objective perspective on situation as a whole. There were just so many questions that needed to be addressed, and in a situation like Heimlich's, there are different stakeholders that need to be taken into consideration.
I'm not really sure if this situation can be objectively written, but I guess what I really want to talk about is the situation itself and not the story. One of my peers brought up really great point that Heimlich failed to continue his punishment, which was to annually re-register with the state. It was on him to continue with his punished so that his crime wouldn't be pushed back into the spotlight.
I argued that at what point does a convicted felon become detached from a crime and move on with their life without it following them around. Obviously what Heimlich did was heinous, and there is nothing that you can say or do to change what happened. But I do think that he did the time for the crime he committed as an adolescent boy, and that he should almost be able to get past it.
Some of my other peers did argue about how the victim will be affected more than Heimlich, and I completely agree that the victim shouldn't have to see the man who molested her become a successful MLB player. But I also do see it in the eyes of Heimlich. If I did something completely stupid, wrong and illegal as a child, and I knew that it would haunt me for the rest of the life, I would find any motivation to succeed in life. I would fee like no matter what I did in life, this one thing I did would always come back and ruin everything. I'm not saying that either perspective is right, I'm just trying to add more perspectives to the argument of whether this article was ethically okay to publish.
I do agree that because Heimlich didn't comply with the rules of his punishment, it was his fault that the Oregonian reporter was able to track down his juvenile record. With that being said, I think that it was ethical for them to publish the article, but I do disagree with how they published it.
Katherine brought up the fact that the article was so long and that it needed another tactic to organize it. She was explaining how the intentions of the article was confusing and that it was trying to serve two purposes. That's exactly how I felt about the article. The story initially began as a profile, and then when all this information was found out, it turned into something I can't even explain. The intentions are unclear as to why the story included both his juvenile crime as well as his rise to fame and how great of a baseball player he is. It just didn't seem like the Oregonian knew exactly what they wanted to say with this piece, they just wanted to get all the information they gathered out there.