More Than a Camera and Microphone

My name is Rodney Rocker, and I have been a television news photojournalist for about 13 years. I have always believed that a camera and a microphone are two of the most powerful tools in the world. But from my experiences working scenes in real life situations, the impact I can have on a grieving family is what’s most important to me.

Pictures and videos captured by someone operating a camera can make someone happy, sad, angry, and a myriad of other emotions. The same thing with a microphone; the words spoken through a microphone can have the same impact. I have covered a wide variety of stories from sad to happy endings, and I am certain of one thing: there is always an opportunity to be a ray of sunshine in someone’s life, regardless of the story.

I embrace that role along with my job as a photojournalist.

An example of a happy story I had the privilege of covering was the birthday party of a great lady named Lucille Tutwiler.  She was celebrating her 100th birthday, and was an active realtor with Roberts Brothers.

This was a really inspiring story.

I knew before walking into the building this was going to be a happy occasion, and I was right. Everyone was in great spirits and telling funny stories. It was a great time!

After I recorded an interview with Mrs. Tutwiler, I personally went to get her a birthday card to show my appreciation for this great lady.  She was moved by my thoughtfulness. Yes, I could have done my story and moved on, but I like to think beyond “the work”.  People always remember you for how you make them feel while covering a story rather than the actual story itself. Fast forward to a few weeks later…I received a card in my mailbox at the station from Mrs. Tutwiler, stating how much she appreciated me being at her celebration and that I touched her life.

That’s the kind of impact I want to have on people while doing my job.

However, there are also tragic stories that come along.  About three years ago, The Downey family in Thomasville, Alabama suffered a horrible tragedy. The patriarch of the family, Scotty Downey, lost his wife and two grandkids in a vehicle accident while traveling to Florida. When my reporter and I arrived in Thomasville to Scotty’s residence, I immediately thought he would not answer the door.

To my surprise, he answered, and welcomed me and my reporter into his home.

As you can imagine, he was getting a lot of calls of sympathy, but the first thing I noticed was the hurt in his eyes. I literally felt his pain in my heart. When we did the interview about his horrific loss, he broke down and cried, and my heart was just devastated doing that story .

That was three years ago.

I try to keep in touch with him or at least one member of the family every day to make sure they are doing well. We even consider each other family. I love every one of them, and they will always have a special place in my heart.

It is more than just a camera and a microphone. I consider it a mission to spread God’s love and care. Yes, I can successfully do my job, but I can also touch people lives.

As far as race goes, that does not have any impact on what I try to do. Tragedies and celebrations affect everyone. It’s all about using my platform to make the world a better place, and my job gives me the opportunity to do just that.

Rodney Rocker has been a photojournalist in Mobile, Alabama for 13 years. His interests include photography, videography, exercising, traveling and watching sporting events.

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