We all have a role to play
June 26, 2012
On June 18, Reno Gazette-Journal photographer Tim Dunn was thrown to the ground, handcuffed and then cited while covering the Sun Valley fires that claimed two homes.
The story about the 60-year-old photo editor’s experience has been aired around the nation, and has prompted protests from a variety of media outlets, the Society of Professional Journalists and several interviews with the Nevada Press Association.
Photographers do their work close in, but we’ve found that doesn’t have to be in conflict with emergency personnel or anyone for that matter. Anyone who’s watched a television reporter talking from the scene of a fire is familiar with the yellow Nomex shirt and green pants journalists wear.
The reason they’re wearing those clothes is so they can get in close to the fire. Photographers have a story to tell, and they do that by getting as close as they can.
The photographers and reporter are there as surrogates for the ordinary people who might be tempted to put themselves in harm’s way, without the benefit of firefighting training.
Unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of experience covering wildfires in Douglas County lately. The advantage to living in a smaller community is that we know the firefighters and law enforcement officers handling a fire, and they know us.
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We value that relationship, which is based on the knowledge that in an emergency we all have a role to play.