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No free rides? Says who? - Zach Porter

Just the other day, I flew on an airplane for free, courtesy of an airline to report on a story. Not only was it free but I got to take a brief tour of the cockpit with the aviation students I was following for the story. This was a rare opportunity post 9/11 and certainly something most people never get to do. The view was a letdown though, as it was very cloudy below us, blocking a view of the landscape and the sun beamed in from one side, blinding me from the view to my right. Nevertheless, riding in the cockpit of a huge airplane was more fun than you're having at the office cubicle, your little station with self-help pinups, as the world waits outside.

That's what I love about my job. I leave the office to see the world everyday. Sometimes that involves photographing a sweet newborn baby or maybe even the President of the United States. It really opens my eyes to the perspectives of others and provides knowledge about all sorts of things in areas of law, medicine, science and government. You could almost call it a continuing education. Sometimes you follow cops around, sometimes airline pilots, or presidential hopefuls. It's a window to someone else's world that you get to see first-hand before relaying it to the public.

Another job perk is that I always seem to be getting lunch for free (the phrase "There's no free lunch", does not apply to journalists and photographers). The people in my profession find themselves at catered events or at situations which it may be rude not to accept a kind offer of food. One day I attended two luncheons back to back for stories I was covering and was absolutely stuffed by the end. During the G-8 the media was treated like royalty at the conference center, having a hot buffet line going all day in addition to an on-site Waffle House station and a Krispy Kreme doughnuts store. I didn't spend a nickel on food the whole time I was there. Journalism may not be a high paying profession but we are certainly not starving like the artists.

The real perk though is the reward of seeing your work in print and the fact that other people trust you to report the news accurately. I enjoy that responsibility and handle it with great care. I could not imagine being totally on the receiving end though, I want to be there as history unfolds, and to bear witness to it.

Zach Porter is a photographer with the News Daily. He can be reached at zporter@news-daily.com or (770) 478-5753 ext. 248.