Maybe I’ve read one too many rants from know-it-all bloggers about how nobody really needs journalists and how journalism is a dead dying industry, but it really hit home today about the real difference between journalists and blogger know-it-alls.
Above is the front page of the New York Times.
How much fortitude did it take for Eric Thayer to look through his camera lens and snap that photo, straining to keep his emotions from shaking the shot out of focus? Did he fight back tears as he shot or did he just let them flow and do his job anyway?
Has Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) thrown up yet because of anything he’s seen while reporting in Joplin? I’m guessing he has, yet he continues reporting.
How many of us could go to a disaster site like Joplin and not be so overwhelmed by emotion that we could not find the courage to continue reporting or shooting photos so the rest of us could know about the devastation?
Anyone can report the news on good days. It takes men and women of incredible skill, determination and a cast-iron stomach to handle news as devastating as a tornado, earthquake, flood or war. The value of a good journalist should not be measured by how well s/he does the job on a slow news day, but how well s/he reports when all around them is falling apart.
The next time you hear someone at a conference or on a blog rant on about how journalism is dead, ask them if they’ve been to Joplin.. or Minamisanriku… or New Orleans… or Afghanistan… or Sri Lanka. Ask them how many children they’ve seen dead in the streets or how many faces of utter despair and hopelessness they have looked into.
Like their experience with real journalism, I would wager the answer would be zero or fewer.
Footnote (literally this time) I found this moments before hitting the publish button. It was so overwhelming, I had to share.