Sometimes we get a kick out of covering news

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 17, 2008

Earlier this week Douglas Bruce, a member of the Colorado House of Representatives, was going through an ordinary swearing-in ceremony when he did something not so ordinary.

He kicked a photographer.

By all accounts, if Rocky Mountain News photographer Javier Manzano had been a football he would have been good from 40 yards.

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Well, that might be a slight exaggeration, but what isn’t up for debate is that Bruce flipped out when Manzano tried to take a photo of him during the statehouse prayer.

Bruce was standing, kicked Manzano in the knee and said, “Don’t do that again.”

So much for trying to capture a genuine moment. The genuine moment might have been a photo of the bottom of Bruce’s shoe with the Bible he was holding in the background.

There’s a long list of photographers who’ve been attacked or threatened while on the job. I’m not talking about the paparazzi photographers who make a habit of seeing how much they can violate celebrities’ privacy, but everyday photojournalists who get verbally attacked, threatened, spit on and generally disrespected.

This usually occurs when defendants are led into a courtroom, photographs are taken at accident scenes or fires and when people are arrested at a drug bust. It can happen anywhere really, as any photographer who has ever covered Tiger Woods can attest.

Woods’ caddie, Steve Williams, is not bashful about shouting down photographers who fire before Woods’ shots are complete. He has even been known to take cameras away from photographers who get a little trigger happy.

B ecause my wife is a photographer and has had her share of uncomfortable moments, I often dream of a confrontation between her and Williams. Let’s just say no caddie is going to just walk away with her camera. She would not violate the rules, but if she did make a mistake and some caddie tried to take her equipment there would be quite a spectacle, probably right in the middle of a fairway.

Sports aside, there are often situations for photographers that require discretion, but think of the many images that have been created by photographers in those tender moments that stir emotion. It is our job as journalists to portray the events we cover as best we can and, often, to illustrate the gravity of some situations with raw emotion.

By no means should that be construed as a disrespect or a lack of sympathy for the people who are involved in the news. We are not uncaring people. We simply have jobs that often require us - if we’re to do them properly – to ask difficult questions and, sometimes, take photos in sensitive situations that give readers a full comprehension of the news.

Even if that means getting kicked once in awhile.

Rick Greene is the managing editor of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1441, ext. 12, or by e-mail at