A Dan­ger­ous job

Ian's Ru­ral Ram­blings

The McLeod River Post - - Points Of View - Ian McInnes

One wouldn’t think it as peo­ple see re­porters wan­der­ing around an event note­book in hand and tot­ing a cam­era that there was dan­ger in jour­nal­ism. Au con­traire, dan­ger there is and dan­ger there al­ways has been.

When one thinks of jour­nal­ists in dan­ger one might be think­ing about members of my pro­fes­sion work­ing in war zones, un­sta­ble and dan­ger­ous regimes or work­ing fever­ishly to un­cover cor­rup­tion and cover ups in high places. And, one would be right.

South of the bor­der a cer­tain gen­tle­man in charge has, some may say jus­ti­fi­ably, tarred jour­nal­ism and jour­nal­ists with the fake news ban­ner. In fair­ness, some jour­nal­ists are more eth­i­cal than oth­ers and I’ve met some that would stam­pede over their own mother to get the story. Over­all though I would say that the ma­jor­ity that I’ve met and worked with dur­ing my two decades plus ca­reer in the me­dia have been eth­i­cal, bal­anced and fair.

That is not to say that be­ing eth­i­cal, bal­anced and fair does not mean that th­ese jour­nal­ists will not want to get to the bot­tom of the story. That is not a mis­take that any­one in­vok­ing the right or de­sire to go to the press should make. There are two sides to every story and any jour­nal­ist do­ing their job prop­erly should tell it both ways, un­less they are bias (I’ve seen that too) or sub­jected to out­side or in­ter­nal in­flu­ences on the story. I’ve seen that too and to their credit I’ve seen peo­ple re­sign rather than tow the line that they’ve been given.

I’ve worked free­lance or self-em­ployed for most of my me­dia ca­reer, but I have been a staffer too and as such there was an ex­pec­ta­tion, not quite pres­sure for me but it was and is in some news or­ga­ni­za­tions, to have an ac­ces­si­ble so­cial me­dia pres­ence for the read­ers. I can un­der­stand that.

The trou­ble is that ac­ces­si­bil­ity to the read­er­ship is a two-way street and some of the feed­back can be un­pleas­ant at best and down­right threat­en­ing at worst. I’ve re­cently read that a se­nior BBC po­lit­i­cal cor­re­spon­dent may have been pro­vided with an ex mil­i­tary body­guard for when she’s on as­sign­ment. One would rea­son­ably ex­pect the politi­cian/ celebrity to have se­cu­rity but for jour­nal­ists to have to have it too? Pho­to­jour­nal­ists record­ing demon­stra­tions more than ever now are at great risk of phys­i­cal harm and/or hav­ing their equip­ment stolen or dam­aged. Where does this end?

To pre­serve some safety, I make no apolo­gies for keep­ing my per­sonal and work so­cial me­dia en­tirely sep­a­rate and for hav­ing beefed up the set­tings. Strangeness thrives it seems. If I had ten dol­lars for every wacky tale I’ve been told dur­ing my work, I would be a lot bet­ter off than I am. Only re­cently hav­ing lunch with my fam­ily a per­son opin­ioned that thieves, if they’re caught in the act, should be hanged on the spot and oth­ers should have their fin­gers, then hands then pre­sum­ably other ex­trem­i­ties re­moved. I guess we may not be too far from the mid­dle ages af­ter all. How much is chain mail th­ese days?

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