Journalism: A Call to Duty

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whether a story involves the local Congressman making his rounds on the way to senate, the President of the United States out kissing babies for the next election or even if the event contains scandal; the thinking of the Journalism student is proved a bit presumptuous.

Whatever the dream state of the journalist in bloom, in its depths are scenes of a naïve mind which is ignorant of the goings out; or the comings in of those who choose to live life as a truth-seeker.

Experience teaches that the lives of those who choose this path are placed in jeopardy; albeit, some stories unawares. Barriers are faced and are seen in victims of war, of murder, the most heinous of crimes such as rape, kidnappings, beatings to uncover corruption, of seeking justice and are the price paid for truth in some cases; certainly the cost is great.

Professional journalists and editors have this thing about bloggers reports and writing being not as factual as they would like. However, with the rise of the cellular phone and video cameras the citizens of the world are speaking out like never before. Furthermore, it is not the case that professional journalists or even editors can be everywhere, at every time; those who write blogs can.

Private citizens live in our neighborhoods, walk the streets of  life; attend church, school and are out there contending with business; no matter the countries we live. Conversely, bloggers tell the truth, uncensored. What this means for news is that the truth will be told as they see it; rather than a watered version with replaced words and ill found truths.

In America corruption is faced in the political and governmental arenas, and corruption  happens  in other areas as well. For example, in Russia the fight to stop corruption has become a plea for help, according to the Neiman report “Russian Journalists Need help in Exposing Corruption”. Concerning the dangers of reporting events by bloggers, Navalny notes, “Exposing corruption in countries where the rule of law has not been established is always a heavily one-sided affair. Independent media and the internet are the tools that  citizens have to fight against it while the ruling elite retain the power of the state’s resources and command the loyalty of those who enforce punishment on those who interfere.”

Today in Russia journalist need help in their fight against corruption. “We don’t want intrusive assistance, but rather moral and professional support from our international colleagues (journalism and bloggers) along with attentiveness on the part of international investor, ” says Navalny.

However, bloggers in America can write without limits about any topic they find suitable and even if not suitable within limits of lawful guidelines when compared with Russian reporters and citizen journalists who face punishment for reporting corruption in the government. On the other hand, the United States citizens are free to curse the President and nothing is done about it.

Journalists are taken hostage for reporting and gathering stories. The Committee to Protect Journalist is programmed to take action involving these and many other dangers to those who write the news. In their article “Japanese releases Chinese journalist—China’s up next.” Reportedly, even they need the assistance for helping people who have been kidnapped. Earp writes, “It’s not often we at CPJ find ourselves calling on other countries to release Chinese journalists from detention. But that’s just what happened yesterday. Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV contacted us to say that two of their journalists were among a group of 14 arrested by Japanese authorities over a disputed territory in the East China Sea. For once, we found ourselves in accordance with Chinese authorities, who called for the “unconditional and immediate release” of all 14, according to Reuters.”: (Earp, 2012).

In the midst of this horror, the articles says that Japan has sent journalists back to their prospective countries; as they covered a story on protestors who were posting the Chinese flag on an island. This says to the world that there is low tolerance for those who interfere in government affairs. The coverage of the protests is heavily controlled. Earp notes, because of the communist party, and restrictions to internet which thwart criticisms of any kind.

Moreover, rapes are a reality according to one journalist, Natasha Smith, experienced the horror first hand. In the article “Please God. Please make it stop! She notes, that while in a foreign country to cover a story; and, while being accompanied by two male companions she was  accosted by a mob of males during a festival. She adds that something so jovial and full of fun was good for her and states that she thought it a time to regroup. “She said: ‘Just as I realized I had reached the end of the bridge, I noticed the crowd became thicker, and decided immediately to turn around to avoid Tahrir Square. ‘My friends and I tried to leave. I tried to put my camera back in my rucksack. But in a split second, everything changed. ‘She adds further, that she was helped by some Muslim women who told her the reason for her attack. “She added: ‘The women told me the attack was motivated by rumors spread by trouble-making thugs that I was a foreign spy. ‘But if that was the cause, it was only really used as a pretext, an excuse, to molest and violate a blonde young Western girl.’” (As cited by Staff Reporter, 2012).

She is not the last to suffer such violation.

Conversely,  just as appalling and unthinkable are the number of journalist killed while investigating stories. In the article “70 journalists killed in six months” the writer conveys the horror of the journalist’s plight while on assignment in other countries, and proclaims this critical message: “Journalists are more than ever in the cross-hairs of the enemies of freedom,” said INSI Director Rodney Pinder. He adds,  “Despite some encouraging international political moves to halt the murder, the gun and the bomb remain the favored method of censorship in far too many countries. “Each and every killing chokes the free flow of information without which free societies cannot function.” (ISNI, ( n.d,).

The numbers are astounding and tell just how frequent death by murder is wrought.

The writer states, “Fifteen were confirmed dead in Syria alone between January and June, according to the biannual Killing The Messenger survey of news media casualties produced for the International News Safety Institute (INSI) by the Cardiff school of journalism. The next worst countries were Nigeria, where seven unidentified newspaper staff were killed by a bomb, BrazilSomaliaIndonesia, where five journalists died in a plane crash, and Mexico. The toll compares with 124 for the whole of 2011 and 56 for the first seven months of last year. And 70 may be a conservative figure as INSI has recorded the deaths of an additional 30 news people where it was unclear whether the killings were related to their work.” (ISNI, ( n.d,).

Beatings are also a reality for the journalist even in the United States where two men were beaten recently, according to the article  “TWO WHITE REPORTERS ASSAULTED BY BLACK MOB IN NORFOLK, VIRGINIA”.  The writer gives this account: “Wave after wave of young men surged forward to take turns punching and kicking their victim. The victim’s friend, a young woman, tried to pull him back into his car. Attackers came after her, pulling her hair, punching her head, and causing a bloody scratch to the surface of her eye. She called 911. A recording told her all lines were busy. She called again. Busy. On her third try, she got through and, hysterical, could scream only their location. Church and Brambleton. Church and Brambleton. Church and Brambleton. It happened four blocks from where they work, here at The Virginian-Pilot.” (The View from the Right, (n.d ). There is concern that these beating did not get the attention that people thought concerning covering of the event since they are journalist. The response to the inquiry is that the beating was not considered high priority. The conclusion may be that people’s jobs or occupation do not take precedence over that of severity.

Hence, if the person had been at some important eye catching event then this would be newsworthy. Imagine: the pair are covering an event where black Muslims are promoting black equality and two white journalists come to cover the beat, and in the middle of the event someone knocks one of the white reporter’s camera down because they are angry at them for being there. The reporter asks why and immediately the crowd of 100 blacks begins to beat them. That’s news the other is not, because gang members beat someone up every day.

Lastly, it is apparent the chosen career path of the journalist is seen as nothing special. Truth or in this case, truth gathering is in the eye of the beholder and even further apparent is the truth that people go to desperate measure to keep their dark deeds secret. Journalists are faced with this gruesome truth as well; that being, the full reality that if people are going to kill they will whether a journalist are not. Therefore, journalists should be careful in the assignments they choose.

Someone coined journalists as “society’s watch dog”. I agree with the name, but a good rule of thumb is to know that just as the law enforcement officer suits up to go to work, along with the firemen, and the other people whose work present a public service they should precede with caution, with their mind fixed on preserving their life to make it home safely. People kill every day, and those who choose to face these barriers against them; whether, beatings, war, rapes, corruption, and the like, do so with the mind that it is all a call to duty.

English: Phoenix TV and Hong Kong Cable Televi...

English: Phoenix TV and Hong Kong Cable Television news interview at the main door outside of the Central Police Station on 29-June-2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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