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Misadventures in Journalism - The Precious Photo-Op

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At least a camel is much more entertaining and inspiring than Patch Adams.

The crusty, cynical journalist in me cringes when I see Press Releases like the one I received promoting an event over the weekend. It said members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Reserves were bringing a camel and a horse to visit with pediatric at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA on Saturday.

Maybe it's part of Mayor Tony Fatigue Syndrome, (who mugs for more cameras than an average American Idol contestant), but this seemed like an excuse to get sick kids and animals together to create a cloying photo-op. On their own kids and animals are hardcore staples of the "soft news" establishment, but putting them together, I instantly wondered if this was some sort of attempt to wag an unknown dog.

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But after seeing the expressions on these children's faces when petting the camels, all my professional cynicism melted away. These ill children who were stuck staring at hospital walls all day wore expressions of pure joy when petting these animals. It made their day.
Photo-op or not, there seemed to be something inherently good about it.


I began to feel ashamed for dismissing the event as maudlin sentimentality and wondered if I'd ever again have the same wondrous expression as the little boy peering into the eyes of an ordinary camel.

Photos by Faye Sadou