Hail journalism’s heroes

It skews your judgment. We’re not all phone-hackers.

That’s not what journalism is about.

It’s about truth, and the freedom to express it for the public good; to provide a transparency to life and how we all experience it in good times and bad.

Several Association members have said quietly that the news media needs to be reined in; that some have overstepped the mark.

I’m convinced they’ve come to that opinion by taking too much notice of politicians, those professionally disenfranchised for whatever reason, or digital zealots who might take as much pleasure from the troubles of print as they do the growth of new media.

I am a believer, yet a little self-reflection does no harm.

Why, as a 13-year-old in an English village, did I dream of being a journalist, especially after my English teacher, Mrs Stephenson, laughed in my face when I told her I wanted to work on Fleet St. “Don’t be so bloody stupid,” she sneered in caustic Glaswegian.

At the time, I wanted to be a football reporter on The Sun. Once I got my teaboy-ship, I began to learn the importance of truth, balance, fairness and responsibility. I came to believe – and still do – that great personal courage is required to be a journalist.

This courage is being forgotten all too conveniently in these days of inquiries and sniping.

A courageous journalist is not defined only by reporters on the frontline of a conflict, though God knows that requires courage.

A good journalist refuses to take “no” for an answer, asks questions nobody wants to hear and has the courage to write for thousands to read with their name at the top: their work and integrity exposed for everyone to see and judge.

It is no different for a photographer. Art is their words; their integrity is how they treat the subject through the lens.

Photographers are my heroes.

If Justice Finkelstein really wants to understand newspapers, he should talk to photographers and reporters; those who expose their skills and integrity to criticism every day.

We would all benefit from reminding ourselves why we love newspapers and why journalism is the most incredibly important skill to society.

There’s a video by my colleague, Sophie Tarr, on the Association’s YouTube Channel, in which she talks to Pulitzer winning photographer David Leeson. Damn it, Leeson says everything that needs to be said. Six minutes with him will refresh anyone’s faith in journalism.

Sophie’s video with Australian snapper Stephen Dupont is just as revealing.

These guys understand why truth has to be told. They dedicate their lives to it. They are heroes.

But you won’t hear from them at the Media Inquiry.

Leave a comment