And, as journalists we see and hear awful things. Not every day, but enough that the sadness stays with us.

Thursday was one of those days.

Just after 7 a.m. a young teen was struck and killed while crossing Main Street in Lewiston. And, in what is a somber task here, Chief Photographer Russ Dillingham went to Main Street to report what happened.

An ambulance was idling on the closed street and Lewiston police officers were just beginning their investigation. Russ was immediately told the accident was fatal.

He took a number of photos, including some of the accident scene and several of the driver. Then he began streaming live video of the street, including people, vehicles and debris strewn across the pavement.

Minutes later, a woman who he was told was the teen’s mother, arrived. Russ stopped filming and put his cameras behind his back so they wouldn’t potentially intimidate her, standing quietly while police told Kellie Cho Foley that her son had been killed.

Her unblunted grief was clear and wrenching.

Russ moved away and stood silent another 15 minutes or more. Then, he started filming again, doing his job to report police working the scene.

Minutes later, the woman could be heard on the livestream crying. Capturing that moment was inadvertent, and was mixed in with sounds of an ambulance moving and officers talking.

We quickly heard from a number of readers, including Linda Scott, chairman of the Lewiston School Board of Directors, asking us to take the video down to spare the teen’s family. We did. The piece was edited and re-posted.

The age of media we now live in is immediate and it’s often raw.

Decades ago, our journalists went to fatal accidents, took photographs and wrote stories to be packaged and delivered the following day. There was always distance between when a tragedy happened and when people read about it, time enough for a little perspective to set in.

Now, our journalists are reporting events as they unfold, capturing live images to bring viewers directly to scenes. More immediate information is better information.

But, we see these scenes through a lens, and are hardened by years of covering the tragedies that happen in our communities.

What we missed Thursday, standing at a scene of sorrow, is that our readers are not so-hardened. While people want information — like knowing why Main Street was closed for hours — reality in real time can be grim.

Images from the scene have enormous value. They tell a story of what happened and where, but it would have been better Thursday to show 30 seconds to set the live scene — including where the accident happened and that the impact was enough to fling shoes and books — and end the livestream.

Every reporter and photographer who worked on this story Thursday is a parent. They all have sons and each was struck with a “could have been my child” thought.

As journalists, though, it is their job to inform the public, to report what’s going on our communities — even when it’s dreadful.

We don’t always get to pick the topics.

The Sun Journal’s mission statement is “We publish our products to inform, challenge and reflect the communities we serve.”

On Thursday, that’s what we did.

We reported the death of 13-year-old Jayden Cho-Sargent, the fast and compassionate way school administrators shared the news with his friends, and the evening vigil held at the middle school held to honor and remember a remarkable young man.

The news was painful, the grief was real. And, the activism of people calling for cars to observe the speed limit and watch for people crossing the street was nearly instant.

A wonderful child was killed Thursday morning, and the sadness will never go away.

We offer our deepest sympathies to his family and friends for their heavy loss.

Judith Meyer is executive editor of the Sun Journal.


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