COLUMN: Sometimes unaffected, sometimes not

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By Shannon Brock

Unaffected is not a word I would normally use to describe myself, but some aspects of this job require me to be just that.

Take for instance a structure fire Monday night. Sitting at my desk, almost ready to go home, I heard the dispatcher call the fire out on the scanner.

When packing up my things, I tossed the camera bag over my shoulder thinking I’d get a few photos before I went home.

Walking out the door, I nonchalantly told a coworker, “Sounds like a house is on fire. Guess I’ll go get a few pictures,” while the whine of sirens filtered in our office as the fire engines drove by.

Nonchalant and unaffected? In a way, yes. But I have to be.

It’s not that I don’t care, or don’t feel sympathy for the people who are affected, it’s just that if I — or any other journalist — allow myself to get wrapped up in the emotion of the situation, I won’t be effective at my job.

Not that I in any way, shape or form measure up to the courageousness of a firefighter, but I imagine they have to approach their job in a similar manner.

Get the job done now, think about the emotions later. And I do.

I have to approach a fire, a wreck, a crime scene as just another assignment, but that doesn’t mean that at the end of the day when I’m sitting at home smelling the smoke in my hair that I don’t think about the family without a roof over their heads.

And it doesn’t mean when I lay down and say my prayers each night that I don’t pray for the victims and ask God to give them comfort.

Luckily, there are other aspects of the job where it pays to be affected by people and situations — I like to think it balances itself out that way.

To see and feel the emotions of a mother like Ammiegail Simpson who is watching her daughter suffer from a medical condition for which there is no cure. To meet a child like Jordan Ball and feel the happiness and love he brings into a room. Those are the feel good stories.

Just as a successful newspaper is made up of both types of stories, a successful reporter needs to be able to cover both types.

So, am I unaffected? Only when I need to be.

Follow Shannon Brock at Twitter.com/ANewsSBrock.