Breaking up brawls and covering them, too

new york driverBy AMANDA WOODS

As a native New Yorker, there are some occurrences that I just have to shake my head at and mutter the words, “only in New York.”  The all-out wrestling match that ensued between a pedicab driver and a taxicab operator this morning in midtown Manhattan is one such instance.

As the story goes, a fight broke out between the two drivers for an unexplainable reason (likely because of the stereotypical road rage of New York City drivers).  The pedicab driver flung his coffee at the taxicab operator, and in retaliation, the taxicab operator drove his car into the path of the bike.  All of a sudden, the two men were on the ground duking it out in the middle of a busy traffic intersection.

The fight could have escalated into something more serious had two journalists not come to the rescue and broken up the brawl.  Reid Lamberty, a reporter for Fox 5 News, and a photographer for Entertainment Weekly, happened to be in the area to cover a different story.  As soon as they witnessed the wrestling match, they immediately stepped in and separated the two men.  Naturally, Fox 5 had first dibs on this story for their newscast.

Although I’m certain the journalists made the right decision, the whole scenario led me to think about the role of a journalist.  These two journalists went above and beyond their basic duty of reporting the news and became the referees in a match between two grown men.

I’ve tried to picture myself as a journalist in this scenario.  My immediate response would probably be to run outside with my notebook thinking, “Oh, what’s going on here?  I think I’ve got myself a story!”  I might be too afraid to break up the fight, or think that it’s not my job to do so.

I feel guilty to say this, but how much juicier would the story have been if the journalists did not step in to break up the fight?  What would’ve happened?  

There’s a fine line that must be drawn between the desire to acquire news and the need to protect basic human safety  — and journalists are forced to make such decisions very often.  This morning, hundreds of angry, horn-blaring commuters held up at the intersection of 53rd Street and 7th Ave. were likely glad that public safety won over.


One response to “Breaking up brawls and covering them, too

  1. Content: 4 Nice job. Good topic. Newsy, timely, relates to the class. Try to put more key words in the headline.

    It’s really an ethical problem you write about. When should a journalist step in and become part of the news he/she covers? It’s happened to correspondents in Israel (should they try to protect Palestinian rock-throwing youth from Israeli soldiers or just watch the kids get shot at?) China (Tiananmen Square) Somalia (do you report about famine or try to help victims? See Nicholas Kristof’s fine articles on this for NYT)

    In this case, given your slight frame, I think it would have been unwise to step in and try to break it up. But perhaps you might have yelled for help from others. Or maybe you would have stood, pen in hand, and jotted it all down.

    Links: 3 Would have liked to have seen links to ethics sites, but still these worked well

    Grammar: 3 I’d like to work on style issues with you. Print out this post and make an appointment to see me after class on a Thurs.

    Also, Amanda, your name is not coming up on the Grade Center. Can you make sure you are registered for the class? If all is well on your end, I will contact TLC. Tx.

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