Casting objectivity aside and supporting a former professor

My last day working with the Village of Arts and Humanities on May 1, 2008.
My last day working with the Village of Arts and Humanities on May 1, 2008. One way I came to know Eugene Martin, second from left in front row. I wrote a letter on his behalf.

Journalists are supposed to stay uninvolved. I get this. I like this. But sometimes it doesn’t work.

Reporters are still people.

Eugene Martin, a professor and mentor of mine while at Temple University, is being forced out of his native Philadelphia’s largest research institution. Because of my close relationship with him, I felt I needed to get involved.

In my experience, there might be something to learn about potential bias and conflict for all young journalists.

Without a disclaimer, I don’t know if I now could ever write a meaningful piece about Martin again. This is one reason I added a Disclosure page on this site (more details in a future post).

This is something journalists face and over which good journalists agonize. Who is friend and who is fodder?

I surely think Martin, who had a film of his in the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, is worth covering, so I could have pitched his story to an editor. But, I felt I was too close. Instead read the letter I sent Temple University’s President and Provost here, to hear about the details of the situation.

Now, where Martin is headed isn’t yet clear, though his options are varied, some outside Philadelphia city limits.

One of the ways I came to know Martin best was through our work at the Village of Arts and Humanities, a community center in central North Philadelphia.

Recently I was asked to help to promte an event for the Village, an organization for which I have great respect. While I have been close to the Village, I still think I am distanced enough from the group to cover it. So I decided I could better serve the group and myself by instead covering the best of what that organization has to offer.

I turned them down.

There are  a million examples of this I face everyday, I think. Can I enter in contests online, as I often see them on Twitter. I’ve realized that I probably shouldn’t. These can add potential biases (expect a future post on this).

Am I taking this too seriously? Anyone else with these experiences or others?