After everyone had finally arrived at the Ramada Inn in Hollywood, Florida for the 6th Will Write For Food event, we went on a tour of the shelter. We went up a steep set of stairs to the second floor and stopped so that the staff member who was giving us the tour could talk to us. On the floor against one wall was a mattress. An older woman lay on top of this mattress; her eyes were closed. One of our group asked the staff member why she was there.
“She can’t walk,” was the answer. And all the beds were full, so rather than have this woman lying immobile on the street somewhere, the shelter staff had put a mattress in the hallway for her.
My first though was that this was a “story,” but as all 21 of us stood in the hallway listening to the staff member speak, a thousand questions ran through my head. “Where was her family? What’s wrong with her? What will become of her”? I thought about her dignity — how difficult it would be to maintain while lying on a mattress in the hallway of a homeless shelter, unable to get up and leave. Unable to walk to the bathroom. My first thought evaporated as my heart changed. Certainly, this woman had a story, but I would not be the one to shatter what remained of her privacy to tell it. The woman never opened her eyes. The next day, she was gone.
Writing Wrongs teaches young journalists — writers, photographers, print designers, videographers, and social media managers — not only how to write and display stories, but also which stories to leave alone. It exposes them to situations where they must consider how to present information in text, pictures, and videos in a way that respects the interviewee and the struggles they’ve experienced.
Please consider donating to the future of ethical, solutions journalism. It is needed now more than ever.
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