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The danger on the job

January 24, 2012
By ANDREW POTTER , Times-Republican

To get that perfect photograph or the need-to-have interview sometimes reporters have to get down and dirty.

And I'm not just talking about stepping in some animal doo-doo at the Central Iowa Fair, which I seem to do on an annual basis.

We have to be like the post office sometimes as we trudge through inclement weather, irate people and all sorts of variables to get the job done.

I again put my well-being on the line when I was snapping photos of children sledding last week at the hill near St. Henry Church. One boy whizzed by just a few feet away as I stood my ground to get the picture.

Danger may not be my middle name, but sometimes you have to live on the edge to get the picture you need.

I've never been injured on the job, but life as a reporter has been perilous at times. In my sports writing days, I was taking photos on the sidelines of an Iowa State-Iowa football game a few years back when Hawkeye tight end Scott Chandler was pushed out of bounds just inches away from me. Yeah, that Scott Chandler, all 6-foot-7 of him. I was able to move away unscathed but it sure woke me up that day to see this mass of humanity fall so close to me.

And just this past season, one of our sports photographers was run over by Iowa's Marcus Coker during a game, before the running back decided to run out of town. Our guy was able to hop back up and take more pictures - we're tougher than we look in this business.

I had a former co-worker who would get right into the thick of the action at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, taking a spot right up against a fence at one of the turns. By the end of one of the races, his face had pieces of rubber on it. I didn't even think that was possible. That's what I call journalistic dedication folks - where the rubber meets the road, or the face in this matter.

Probably the most treacherous situation I've been in is when we had that huge dump of snow a couple of years ago that shut down the town. I decided to venture out to see if I could get a photo nearby of someone shoveling. I wanted to move fast as it was bone-chillingly cold out and was able to get a picture and get back inside. I was fortunate I didn't fall because I don't think I would have been noticed for a few days in that deep stuff.

It's funny I had this column mostly penned before I encountered a treacherous situation on the road near Conrad Monday. Anyone who drove that stretch of Highway 14 in the morning yesterday can attest it was challenging to say the least.

I put my car into granny mode and it chugged along at 25 miles per hour on the ice and snow covered roadway. I guess danger is best avoided when we can this business.


Reporter Andrew Potter is a Tuesday columnist for the Times-Republican. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don't necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Andrew Potter at 641-753-6611 or



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