Journalist’s Dilemma

There’s a main strip here in Boulder called Pearl Street. It’s filled with shops, nice restaurants, street performers (in the summer) and often, a lot of homeless people.

On my way from the University of Colorado campus to a meeting with my editor for Peaks Magazine at a Pearl Street coffee joint, I walked right past a scuffle, that’s right, an altercation (and no, Dad, I was not in harm’s way). It was mohawed homeless guy versus buff yuppie. The latter was spewing profanities warning the former he’d better “Back the f*** off.” Apparently he’d been standing too close to, whistling at or doing something to the girl striding along with the rich dude. Something enough to warrant threats of bodily harm.

So what does the journalist do? Do I bust out my camera phone and start taking video? Should I yank a used napkin out of my bag and begin furiously scribbling notes? Do I intercede, offering more concern for the potential brawl participants than the possibility of a story?

Really it was just life happening. Perhaps more exciting and violent life than is habitual, but life just the same. Does the public have the right to know that two men exchanged words and threats? Or does the privacy of these two individuals supersede a journalist’s “scoop”?

What did I end up doing? Well, I walked by, looking over my shoulder in an attempt at discretion every few seconds.

Oh, and I blogged about it.

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