How Far Can Journalists Go?

Diana Sugg is a highly successful journalist who took it upon herself to give a voice to dying children. She wrote “The Most Difficult Journey”, a series in the Baltimore Sun that changed her life. This story included a very in-depth account of a 12-year-old boy with rare, stage 4 cancer. Many difficult questions were brought up during the investigative process and afterwords, when the series was released. Would these sick children and their families be upset about the stories? Is it morally right to report on something like this? These questions and more are addressed by Sugg in her article called “Angels and Ghosts: Anatomy of a Story”.

R.J. Voigt was the young boy who Sugg came to know and care deeply about. She met him at a point where everyone knew he was going to die, but no one said it aloud. As this story began to develop, she became highly invested in it and the families of dying children. This story was emotionally tolling and almost controversial. Sugg was giving a voice to terminally ill children. Essentially, this reporter became part of the story and this allowed for an amazing series to be written. I enjoyed the fact that Sugg got to know R.J. and developed a special relationship with his mother. The series itself is extremely unsettling but is also beautiful. She brings up important perspectives that only the people closest to these children understood. I think that the job of a journalist is to bring issues like this to light, even if the process is difficult to endure.

Diana Sugg had second thoughts about this series multiple times. One example is after the first week she said in her article, “I knew what she was thinking, because I was thinking it myself. Vulture, vulture, vulture.” The lives of these families were placed in front of the world to read about, and small details that define them were made into a story. This story was one that most people would not enjoy thinking or talking about. Death is an uncomfortable and upsetting topic, but some issues needed to be brought to the attention of the masses. Dying children are treated much differently than the elderly. These kids don’t really have an option to say that they are done with their treatment and are ready to die. In the article, Sugg even talks about the fact that kids hang on even longer for their mothers. They suffer for years before death catches up with them.

The children Sugg wrote about, especially R.J., left a lasting impact on her and everyone who read her series. I’m sure it was terrifying to dive into a story on such a morbid topic and witness the events that she did. She epitomizes what it means to be a journalist and although she may have become too invested or dug too deep, it was worth it in the end. Reporting on topics like this one are important in the world of Journalism. Our democratic society wouldn’t be effective without it, and the freedom of speech amendment that supports it.

 

Sources Cited

“Newspapers B&W (4).” Flickr. Yahoo!, n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2016. https://www.flickr.com/photos/62693815@N03/6276688407

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