STUDENT VOICE: Covering Uvalde Reflection – Peyton Gallik

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Learning about Uvalde from the perspective of a journalist was an eye-opening experience. Reading reports of such a national tragedy versus hearing a first-hand account really shed light on the emotions and mental health behind journalism. Tony Plohetski’s story really started when reports first started coming in about a school shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, about three hours from Austin, where he works.

He shared his experiences in the newsroom when the story broke and the importance of sitting back and monitoring the situation.

I had never taken the time to consider the reactions in the newsroom when something so tragic hit the media, especially when those are the people who will be putting out the information. There is no time to sit and consider your emotions because there is a ton of work ahead that the community relies on you to get out.

Learning that his station was the first to raise the death toll to the public from two children to fourteen was shocking. I never realized the incredible weight that this carries as a death toll cannot be wrong in a breaking news event involving an elementary school or in any massacre.

The footage from the school cameras really put into perspective what happened that day or the lack thereof from law enforcement. Hearing Plohetski’s story about being the first to see the video, which he later shared, showcased why he chose to be a journalist and that he works for the truth of the community.

It was quite shocking when he said that the Governor had called for the release of the video to the public, yet he never did anything to ensure that the video would be released. Had Plohetski not taken charge of getting the video, who knows how long the public and families would have gone without knowing what truly happened that day inside the school.

These acts of violence are sadly never going to disappear in our society, so bringing awareness to the lack of instruction and initiative taken that day has sparked change in the protocol of what happens in a national tragedy such as a school shooting. Seeing the footage of law enforcement strolling the hallway for over an hour is gut-wrenching and disgusting, and it had to be exposed.

Journalists must be recognized for the horrible scenes they are exposed to help get the news out to the community. They are working for us, so we need to help them in return. It was very interesting getting to learn about Tony Plohetski’s career thus far and how he has shaped journalism and led to changes for the betterment of the community.