FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – “David Lee Kronick. That’s K-R-O-N-I-C-K,” he said as I pretended to know what I was doing with my microphone. Adjust the gain, set a low-cut, turn some knobs and pull some levers. Now, the next step: ask David deeply personal questions about his wife, son, and sister who have all passed away.
If you know me then you probably know that I had once attended Arizona State University at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. If you know this then you also probably know that I dropped out. One of the reasons I did – aside from ASU being a wretched institution – involved the ethical side of journalism. Though I learned very little at ASU, it was there I learned at least two things: you must be willing to ask difficult questions and, more importantly, you must willing to listen to and report the difficult answers. Also, it was there that I met a most beautiful friend who had the same questions about journalism and its ethics.
Two years later, I found myself studying journalism again, this time in Flagstaff, Arizona with a microphone in my hand and headphones that covered half of my head, still faced with the same issue of asking difficult questions. Granted, what I was asking was not the hard-hitting journalism in Time or on Vice about Syrian refugees, female genital mutilation, or Islamic terrorism – Flagstaff, Arizona isn’t quite the place to find the answers to those questions – but it was difficult, nonetheless.
My assignment required me to follow David around with a camera and a microphone in hopes to learn about his life. Naturally, I became involved in it. I attended church, bowled, listened to music, drank coffee, made banana bread, and looked at old cookbooks with David. When it came time to interview David, it was certainly a challenge attempting to find a balance between sensitivity and journalistic integrity. At times I knew I was pushing, but I had to, not only for the story, but a part of me felt it might be cathartic for David to talk about these issues.
After the interview, David told me that I reminded him of his son and he thanked me for allowing him an opportunity to talk about things he has held in for years. Though many of David’s insightful and interesting outlooks on life were taken out of the interview for sake of time, one thing was indubitable: David loved his wife. So when he gave me her copy of The Joy of Cooking which contains some of her handwritten notes, I couldn’t help but cry.