Conflicts of interest

My question of the day:

Can journalists make a difference in the world or is voyeurism and a way with words our only contributions to society?

On my time trial trek from UCF to about Austin’s Coffee, I almost bumped into a bum. Laying in repose, eyes a quarter of the way open, alongside his bag and an unopened can of Steel Reserve near the intersection of Lakemont and Aloma, he wore a dark teal collared shirt, tucked into khaki shorts with a belt around his midsection. I didn’t see him until my bike was right up in his face. I tapped his clean-looking sneakers and rubbed his shoulder, calling out to him, neither of these gestures coaxing a response out of the guy.

Two people across the road at Mellow Mushroom spied me trying to make a connection with this man and after some waving and incoherent self-proclaiming hand symbols eventually jogged across the median to let me know someone called an ambulance already.

“Look, he has some movement in his arm, there must be some synaptic activity going on there,” said a man in a suit with a small backpack.

The Doorstep Delivery guy beside him said he must have passed out from drinking, as Steel Reserve is some serious booze.

Before Officer Acevedo arrived to tell us that he knows this particular man (“I can’t remember his name, but he’s a local guy”) the delivery guy asked me what my major was and if I’d run a story on this. I thought back to Brunson’s class, asking myself if this was newsworthy, if I would be able to set the tone right and give a balanced perspective on the subject. To be honest, I wonder if any reporter has ever told a story “right” in theit lifetime.

Everyone is biased and there’s always an angle to every news piece out there, it just might be hidden in the overall slant of the periodical itself.

In between periods where the man on the ground rolled over, spasmed in a way that frightened me, spit up on himself and the sidewalk, then lay back down, the delivery guy asked the police officer what he was doing to help the man out. He replied, “This happens all the time,” he said. “The Winter Park Hospital takes them in for three days, gives him everything he needs, then releases him,” mimicking the motion you would make if you were setting a bird free to fend for itself.

“He’ll stay at the library near Rollins for awhile, but then he’s back again.”

“They choose this, you can’t make someone change the way they are,” said Acevedo.

I thought of my mom and the world and how easy it is to just give up and stop working so hard to assimilate into society. Keeping a smile on all day during your nine-to-five, paying a mortgage, eating healthy, and volunteering seems like no way to live if you’re a real thinking, feeling human being. I think this guy just might not have the kind of support he needs to care about his own life enough not to get drunk all day every day.

If I lived through a tour in Iraq, not saying he did, but if I went through something as traumatizing as seeing my friends getting blown to bits or losing my only daughter to a wife who hates me so much she had to move to Connecticut or something, yeah I might drown out my more sensible thoughts with a case of 4/11 too if I could afford it.

Now, I can barely afford cigarettes with the tips from my part-time pizza job, so I wonder how a person can manage to stay so satisfyingly stinking drunk, but I digress.

What I really wonder is how someone who remembers almost every second of each day, including the order of events in her dreams, could possibly do anything worthwhile to help someone in that position?

Do I point and laugh like all the yuppies in my Editing class do when they hear about a crackhead who somehow got bit by a crocodile on his naked rump somewhere in Florida recently?

Is that news? Does being a cynical idiot with an AP Style book make you an authentic journalist in this day and age?

I bet some would tell me to write this story from an objective viewpoint, snapping artsy photos and reporting live from the scene, but where’s the heart in that?

I think I’m alone here, when I say my education’s being wasted on being taught how to act on the impulses of other people… but then again, I did it. I recorded this moment in time for the web to read.

It seems my philosophy minor is paying for itself anyway, now I’m spinning in circles questioning everything.

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