What-I-Wonder-Wednesday – Why are reporters fair game?

There’s a story out of Sydney today, where a Channel Nine reporter had eggs thrown at her while she was doing a live cross in a street where terrorism raids had taken place.

And there are some, especially on social media, who are arguing that as a reporter, she was ‘fair game’ – that the reptiles of the media deserve what they get.

I have seen, on multiple occasions, immature young men (and they are always young men) rush up to female reporters and hurl obscenities into their faces as the reporter tries to do a piece to camera (the meaningless FHRITP yell, for example.)

And again, others laugh and say reporters deserve the opprobrium they attract. Because the media is … well, insert your reasons here.20150616_115918

Now, as a journalist of 30+ years experience, I know that sometimes reporters fall on the wrong side of ‘intrusive’; that insensitive questions can be asked (although they are not mainly malicious – rather, they are ill-thought-out).

But does that give others the right to harass working reporters? To stub cigarettes out in their face, for having the temerity to report on the misdeeds of criminals (as happened in Brisbane recently)?

I don’t know of any cases where thugs who throw things at road workers get praised on social media; or where people who launch tirades at office workers get public applause.

20150624_102828And yet when reporters are attacked, there are always those who say it’s the victim’s fault – that they should go get ‘a real job’.

These tend to be the same people who  say that ‘cops should stop harassing speeders, and go after real criminals’ – without realising that speeders ARE real criminals.

Or the same people who say that judges are too lenient – but then attack reporters who cover courts – which is how society finds out about the sentences in the first place.

Around the world, there were 61 reporters and journalists killed on the job in 2014 – trying to ‘shine light into dark corners’, and ‘comfort the afflicted, while afflicting the comfortable’. Each one was someone’s husband or wife, lover or friend, son or daughter. They weren’t ‘fair game’, any more than construction workers, or police, or any other occupation where men and women died on the job.

I know this won’t make any difference – but please, folks, next time you see a reporter being attacked, harassed, molested or monstered, don’t applaud. Journalists are ordinary people, just doing their jobs to the best of their ability, not ‘fair game’ for thugs and thickheads. Or worse.

Support your local journo – s/he is just trying to keep you informed.

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