Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sometimes I Have to Pinch Myself

One of the unique qualities of community journalism is the need to be a jack-of-all-trades as a reporter. We do not have the luxury of a business reporter, education reporter, crime reporter, etc. Rather, all of those titles fall to one individual.

And so it is that I find myself covering a first degree murder indictment in little ol' Chisago County.

I must say it is a singular experience so far. Monday morning brought the first court appearance for the alleged killer since the indictment and I was in attendance. Sitting in the same room with a person accused of a such a heinous crime - one that was witnessed by no less than two people - was surreal to say the least. I'm not sure what I expected, perhaps a red glow or something that would make it clear the fellow was a killer. Something that would distinguish him from other human beings. Something obvious.

But as I sat in this small room about 20 feet from him, I was instead struck by how normal he looked. Aside from the ponytail, had he been in an expensive suit instead of an orange jumpsuit he could have just as easily been one of the lawyers.

Since I began the adventure of becoming a journalist I have had some interesting moments, and sitting just feet away from a man accused of executing another at point blank range certainly ranks as the most interesting to date. I found myself wondering if I was really there, or if it was some kind of weird Walter Mitty dream/nightmare.

Are there more extraordinary moments out there like this? Surely there must be. But for the life of me I can't imagine one that would relegate this moment to ordinary.

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