Seeing The Other Side: Journalists As Heroes

Seeing The Other Side: Journalists As Heroes

Since 9/11 Americans continually celebrate military heroes. We are regularly treated to "welcome home" images as soldiers return to their loved ones. Firefighters and police officers are also rightly viewed as people dedicated to a cause greater than themselves. As the son of a retired Naval Commander I have always honored the sacrifices of families here and abroad.

But what about journalists? The word hero comes to mind when reading about the bravery of James Foley, a free lance journalist who was beheaded in Syria by ISIS terrorists. His mother, Diane Foley, said in a statement that her son "gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people." Foley's death comes roughly 12 years after the death of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

The shocking executions of James Foley and Daniel Pearl remind us of the risks journalists face both here and overseas. Reporters are regularly exposed to danger as they visit crime scenes to gather information along with the police. Look no further than Ferguson, Missouri where last week where journalists were attacked  and arrested while covering the death of Michael Brown.

It's easy to forget in the age of blogs and twitter the crucial role of true journalism (the pen and paper variety, not the talking head blowhards). Reporters are often our only window and witness to the truth. Much like a firefighter running into a burning building, reporters often rush into the line of fire to provide their account. Whether covering war or a traffic accident it's still story telling. "Journalism is journalism," James Foley once said. "If I had a choice to do Nashua (New Hampshire) zoning meetings or give up journalism, I'll do it. I love writing and reporting."

I studied at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and often recall this passage from Founder Walter Williams' journalist creed :

I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust. ... the supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service.

Newspapers are in free fall these days and most have closed their foreign bureaus. Journalism is an evolving business. But without journalists who would witness for the public good?

 

Do you view journalists as heroes? Would you risk your life for a story? Thank you for reading. I would enjoy hearing from you in the comments section and would love it if you like us on Facebook.

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