Dispatches from the Edge is a memoir by CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper. He wrote about his time covering stories in Iraq, in Sri Lanka after the Tsunami, and in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He talked about the difficult of covering such tragic events.
It was oddly comforting to find out that a seasoned reporter like Cooper has the same issues as a graduate student who hasn't cut his teeth yet.
The biggest issue that Cooper faced was when to stay on the sideline and when to step in and help. In many of my classes we have talked about the importance of reporters staying out of the story. This is so you don't skew your story. It's hard to be unbiased reporter when your helping bandage wounds or lift people to safety in helicopters. You're not telling the story, you are part of it.
I've struggled with that concept. As a proud Eagle Scout, I've learned that sometimes you have to step in and do things. I pride myself in doing what I can to fix stuff I see that is wrong. People know I'm a passionate person. I think it would be hard to hold that back while facing situations like the Katrina aftermath.
The one time it's happened to me in real life was on Marathon Monday. I was a block away from the blast. I have First Responder training and I struggled with whether I should run the block to help or to take pictures. However, I didn't do either. I just stood on the corner of Dartmouth and Exeter out of the way. Did I do the right thing? I don't know.
Cooper is arguably one of the most popular reporters on television. I don't watch him often, but I like him. He gets at people's emotions. Is that biased storytelling? Maybe, but people like and seem to trust him.
I still don't know if I'm going to be a stereotypical journalist in the mold of Cooper. I like telling stories, but I tend to get caught up in the emotion of big stories. We'll see what happens.