Wick Communications

We are journalists

In journalism on November 10, 2011 at 2:41 pm

How great is this?

I like it because it recognizes that those of us who choose to work as journalists – virtually all of us – do so for virtuous reasons. There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The vast majority of us will toil in obscurity. The hours are bad. The industry is shrinking. The only reason we do it is because we care about the free flow of information, the fabric of our communities, the future of the democracy. Plus, some of us just can’t stop.

Does some of that sound hyperbolic, elitist … self-important? Maybe. But the truth is that journalism is no place for cowards.

About a year ago, a newspaper reporter named Oleg Kashin was beaten to within an inch of his life by thugs in Moscow. He had dared to call various “youth organizations” in Russia what they are – thugs for the Kremlin.

Pakastani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad was kidnapped in May, after he wrote of the connections between Al Qaeda and his country’s intelligence service. His battered body was later found in a canal outside of Islamabad.

In the Caribbean, journalists met over the summer to celebrate the happy fact that not a single one of them was murdered yet in 2011. That is the sort of thing journalists celebrate in Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, where journalists often die for telling the truth. …

There are more dangerous dark corners of the world. This year alone, at least four journalists have been killed in Mexico. Five were killed in Libya. Another seven of us died in Iraq this year.

We are safer here in the United States, of course, but certainly not immune from the threat of intimidation and violence. Reporters have complained about being detained or worse at the Occupy protests that are ongoing. When Penn State students looked for something to ruin in the wake of the firing of their beloved football coach earlier this week, they turned over a TV news van and pelted photographers with rocks.

Even in Cibola, N.M., our own Donald Jaramillo sometimes works under threat. “I have been chased by people in cars and with guns,” he told a freelancer recently in a story for Editor and Publisher magazine.

No, these are not easy times for journalists.

The We Are Journalists tumblr is full of people who won’t be kidnapped, aren’t concerned about physical violence on the job and know full well they will return to their families at the end of the day. They are nonetheless journalists. They are engaged in vital work that they love. They – we — are everyday heroes. Don’t ever forget that.

Clay

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