“If you don’t point your camera the other way, I’m going to come over there and break it!”
That’s the most recent aggravated comment someone made towards me while I was out filming people walking around in a blizzard. Journalists face harassment on a daily basis, myself included.
Journalists are often seen as intrusive insects to the rest of the world. People who “shove cameras in your face” and spew out “fake news.”
People say they hate the media. Or when we tell people what we do for a living we often get the, “Oh, you’re one of those” comments followed by an intense body check, hateful glares, and folded arms.
Now more than ever, we are faced with so much public scrutiny; and with a president that condones such hateful attitudes towards the media, we are at an all-time high risk of verbal, emotional, and physical attacks.
I don’t think people realize how valuable the media is, though. No, I’m not talking TMZ type of stuff. I’m talking local, national, and international news.
You wouldn’t know about SO much of our history and breaking news if it weren’t for the media. You wouldn’t know about a lot of things happening in your communities or to our allies on other continents.
You wouldn’t know your local or national politics.
You wouldn’t know if there was a police chase on the highway.
You wouldn’t know about severe weather warnings.
You wouldn’t know about the charities that are looking for donations for a cause you support and believe in.
You wouldn’t know about the riots, shootings, protests, car chases, homicides, fires, break-ins, stand-offs, arrests, and convictions.
You wouldn’t know about the feel-good stories in your own neighborhood that move you to tears.
You wouldn’t know about the rapist living next door.
The family that was killed a few blocks from your home.
You wouldn’t know about Watergate, the exposed conditions of meatpacking plants, the Pentagon Papers, sexual misconduct in Congress, NSA surveillance, wars and beyond.
You’d be living in a bubble.
And a counter argument to all that I’m writing now is “Well with the use of social media and smartphones, anyone can be a journalist!”
I guess in some respects, that’s true. We can all document video on our phones.
But journalists know how to dig out the facts, get the interviews, be first to know and first to deliver the information. We can craft a story together because we are trained to do so to the best of our ability. We have media access to things that your typical “man on the street” journalist wouldn’t be able to get. We get front row seats, front-line access, passports into the lives of victims, survivors, officials, and historical legends.
We give you the information you didn’t or couldn’t document on your phone. Our cameras can take you where your own eyes can’t go.
It is not our goal to give you false information. Do mistakes happen sometimes? Yes. We are all human. But every good journalist will double, triple, quadruple check their facts and keep you updated on the most important, most relevant and immediate information.
Journalism is society’s key to a free democracy. We work by the people, for the people.
We share all the same constitutional rights as everyone else. Freedom of the press. Freedom of speech.
Our culture is such where people have adopted this mindset that if someone doesn’t like a story, that means it’s fake news.
We don’t always put out stories you want to hear… we know. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where nothing bad happened?
We report on the truth because you deserve to know.
But just because you don’t like something, it doesn’t make it okay to harass journalists, ruin live shots, send nasty emails, leave jarring voicemails, sent threatening letters, etc.
You need the media. You might not like it 100 percent of the time, but you rely on it. Most people do.
We have jobs to do and trust me when I say, our jobs are extremely difficult. We have to stand up to officials in front of crowds who hate us. We have to know the right questions to ask to hold the powerful accountable. We have to dig deep and study heavily into pages and pages of documents to give you the Sparknote version of ongoing investigations.
It isn’t our jobs to decide who is right and who is wrong. But it is our job to present the facts and let YOU decide for yourselves what you want to believe.
At times, journalists are treated like the dirt collected in the crevices at the bottom of your shoes, but we know–we are noble professionals who only want to steer our communities in the right direction.
Journalists are and will forever be critical players in our lives.