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Can a Reporter be Human While Covering a Murder?

I crossed an ethical line in journalism this morning.

I gave a hug to a person involved in one of my stories, and that's something we reporters are trained not to do.

We walk right up to tragedy, sometimes a dozen or more times per year, and we're supposed to greet it with a stiff upper lip.

You see, a show of emotion like this invites all kinds of problems -- intimacy with a story subject, clouded journalistic judgment, a perceived point of view to viewers.

But I couldn't help myself. Last night, Cindy Williams' 16-year-old brother was murdered just steps away from their South Side home.

I went there this morning to talk to Cindy. She came out of the neat bungalow with puffy eyes and a picture of her little brother, Shawn Wilson.

Cindy told me that she wanted people to know that Shawn was a good kid who had a passion for basketball and rap music, and that he was not into gangs.

She also told me that she never thought that two of her family members would be murdered by the time she was 25. In between sobs, she said that 15 years ago, her mother was shot and killed on the South Side, a homicide that remains unsolved.

And now the little brother who she helped raise had suffered the same fate.

As the tears streamed down her red cheek, I was overcome with grief for this woman, and I asked her if I could give her a hug. She said "yes," so I embraced her.

I told her that I would keep her family in my prayers.

So I took my reporter hat off this morning in favor of being a human being.

Can you blame me?

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Comments (1)

Corey Rector:

No as humans we have emotions as I'm a father of 4 and feel some type of compassion for the mothers and families of murdered children

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