Journalist/Volunteer Snapped Photo: As news trickled out of Newtown, Conn. on Friday, one of the earliest, most powerful images to circulate was a line of elementary school children being guided away from their school by their teachers.
Some were crying, others frightened. Each had their hands on the shoulders of the child in front of them — as they had clearly been asked to do.
It's a powerful image — a visual reminder of the innocence and obedience of children in the face of such terror.
The woman who took the photograph, Newtown Bee Associate Editor Shannon Hicks, explained she had responded to the news heard on her police scanner not just as a reporter but also in the capacity of her other role — a volunteer firefighter.
Hicks was among the first on the scene on Friday and, as Newton Bee associate editor, John Voket, told the Poynter Institute, when Hicks got in the driveway, she started taking photographs
through the windshield of her car, with one hand on the
steering wheel and one holding her camera.
When Voket arrived at the scene behind Hicks, Hicks handed off her editorial duties to Voket and then assumed her role as a volunteer firefighter. She would later return to her newspaper's offices to help coordinate coverage.
But her photograph, which was released through the Associated Press, soon took on a life of its own, appearing on the front page of the New York Times (and probably dozens of other newspapers) on Saturday.
Hicks said she feels conflicted about the photo and she expressed feelings that probably many journalists have been feeling since Friday.
"I don't want people to be upset with me, and I do appreciate the
journalists, especially, who have commented, saying 'We're just
documenting the news.'"
"It's harder when it's in your hometown and these are children we're
gonna watch grow up, the ones who made it. I know people are gonna be
upset, but at the same time I felt I was doing something important."