Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse or crazier, they somehow seem to do just that, especially with our politicians and elected officials.
With the shooting at the Capital Gazette in Maryland where five journalists were killed, many journalists are questioning themselves as well as the current state of affairs in our country. I’ve even had journalists I know express a certain level of fear.
Such fear you could expect in an authoritarian country or if you happen to be covering a war zone. It’s not the first time journalists have been attacked though, but perhaps the first time on American soil. This shooting moves the United States into the spot of third-most dangerous country for journalists. The top two are Syria and Afghanistan. These stats come from the non-profit Committee to Protect Journalists.
Of course, the left and some mainstream media outlets want to cast the blame on President Donald Trump for his media bashing. Personally, I have issues with mainstream media as well and have done the research and determined, most of those outlets are biased and do not totally report the whole truth or both sides for that matter.
Unfortunately, all media gets lumped into the same category and that is what galls me the most. We may write and report the news but us community journalists are not the same as mainstream media. We cover our local communities. But getting lumped in with the rest of the media, makes us targets as well, even among those who know us. People tend to fall into what is going on with the rest of the population when it comes to complaints.
My experience in a town where the police chief threatened me with a gun, made me realize a long time ago, this job could get you into hot water with people in power if they don’t agree with you. It’s not for the faint of heart and it’s certainly not for those who do not believe in what we do in our communities.
This particular shooting has made me more concerned with my staff’s safety. We discussed our escape routes should something happen here. Two of us do carry but don’t bring the guns into the office. A lot of good it would do us out in the car, so we are re-thinking what we need to do.
In another community, the newspaper office was next door to the police department. It did not matter, as one of the reporters was able to get in and out of a window at the office without even as much as a peep from the police department on more than one occasion. We were also next to the fire department and a wisp of smoke brought the fire department to our door. It did give you some sense of safety.
In this case, the shooter had a long feud with the newspaper even before the Trump administration entered the picture. We should not associate this shooting with Trump. He did not pull the trigger, nor would he advocate such action.
It is society that is the problem. A society which spits out hate like it is a good tasting dessert. It is a poisonous venom which spreads like wildfire and taken up by people who you are surprised would even be that way. It is a condition of the heart; a heart that has turned stone cold.
We as journalists, but as people too, cannot live in fear or worry that something we report will stir up an irate person to want to attack us. Letting that fear control us, would defeat the purpose of having a fourth estate.
It does sadden me that a profession I chose and love, has not only been hit hard financially in the last few years but now faces safety threats which could impact how we do our jobs.
If we can’t do our job which is informing the community, then citizens will not know why their taxes are going up, about the good things happening in the school system, or who is running in the local elections. Not everyone has or cares about social media and does not get their news that way. Many depend on the local media to keep them up to date.
A professor of mine from way back when, said the profession was kind of like the first responders in that we attend meetings before the public knows what’s going on and even arrive on different scenes before the public. I never really thought much about that because first responders are heroes in my book, but perhaps he was on to something, though I don’t consider myself a hero or in the same category.
The attack on media from different fronts including financially, has felt kind of like a war zone in previous years. Some days I do question why I ever became a journalist; other days I cannot imagine doing anything else.
As you say your prayers, remember us community journalists as we go about providing you with local news to the best of our ability.
It seems like the past few weeks, there has been nothing but strife to report from communities. I liken it to drama and it’s something we really don’t like, but something because of citizens’ right to know, we have to cover. It can’t always be good or happy news. Life isn’t like that anyway. We must take the good with the bad and must report it as well.
Thank you to our loyal readers and supports. Your support does make a difference in our lives and our ability to keep you informed. Blessings.©2018
VICTORIA SIMMONS is an author, columnist, motivational speaker, minister and publisher of The Georgia Post/Byron Buzz. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org