In Praise of Journalists
I blame the media!
The British press have come in for a bit of a bashing over the last few years. The reputation of journalists and their employers has fallen dramatically on the back of a whole series of scandals. You can’t trust the press.
Then again, how would we know what was going on around the world, if it wasn’t for journalists, who are willing to travel to far off places and to tell the stories of the world’s poor and suffering. Bob Geldof gets the credit for organising Live Aid, but it was Michael Burke (and his camera crew) who first told the story of the Ethiopian famine back in the 1980s.
The world has been shocked by the murder of James Foley in Syria, but without him, Marie Colvin and people like them, we would know even less than we do know about the sad plight of the Syrian people, caught between Bashar Assad and IS.
My Twitter feed is full of updates written by journalists, telling the story of what is happening in Central Africa, South Sudan and other places which have dropped off the front pages of the mainstream media. Some of these journalists are expats; Brits, Americans and French, but increasingly they are citizens of the country they are reporting from. National journalists take the same risks as their foreign colleagues, but without the influence of a powerful foreign country behind them when things go wrong. I am extremely grateful to this small army of slightly mad people, who are willing to go to the world’s hard places so that I can hear the stories of the people who live there.
The press is far from perfect and unconscionable things have been done by newspapers in the UK, but we mustn’t lose sight of the good that is done by those journalists who, often at great risk to themselves, are digging out the stories that need to be told.
To the journalists I’ve met in various corners of the world and to those I follow on Twitter; to those who put themselves in harm’s way and those who patiently dig through documents to ferret out corruption and graft: thank you.