Tuesday, 12 July 2011

In Defense of TV news

I have never blogged before in my life.
Never felt compelled to do so, until this weekend.
For the last few days I've seen someone that I've worked with on an infrequent basis, being called "brave" for a tirade against the so-called establishment.

First let's get one thing clear, some people out there are seriously mistaken in their use of the word brave. I don't claim to be a wordsmith, but even I know that a 24-year old who quits a well-paying job in order to drive back across the country to live with his parents isn't brave.
I won't call the move silly or stupid, but rather normal.
I mean, how many people out there have spent a summer going across the country to find themselves? Probably thousands if not more. And I DO wish him luck.

But BRAVE is a mother who sits through 10 weeks of disgusting testimony detailing how her estranged husband stabbed their kids to death, all because she was in the process of divorcing him.
Brave is family that fights the flood waters which continue to rise around their home for 2 months.
Brave is the leader of a First Nations community that sits in front of TV cameras to express the despair of his people after a young child is shot and killed by a stray bullet while sleeping in his bed, even though he should be at home mourning the loss of his own grandchild.

There are some arguments that my colleague made against the media which I don't refute. Sure there are issues with how close management and editorial offices have become, but the last time I checked, you can't buy a carton of milk with smiles. At some point, money must be made. Regardless of the money - journalists have a huge responsibility to our readers, listeners and viewers. We are THEIR voice and we are the ones who must hold governments and leaders accountable.

When done right (as many of my colleagues prove every day) TV news can be an art. In 2 minutes or less, you are taken to the scene of that massive fire you heard about, or inside the dressing room of your favorite sports team. Nothing short of actually being there can re-create it as well. And when you match those incredible images with some great writing, it can be breath-taking. With shrinking attention spans in our YouTube generation, it's becoming more difficult to keep people tuned in, but there are so many great journalists out there who inspire me to continue trying to reach their standard.

I don't do this job for the money.
I do it for the "thank you" I got from the 80-year old investor who was swindled in a ponzi scheme and felt that talking about it on TV, would help others shake away the shame and also break their silence so that the investor could be brought to justice.
I do it for the "thank you" from the wife of the murder victim in a cold case who hoped that her story would convince someone to come forward with information.

I can't feed my family with a bunch of "thank yous" but it certainly helps me get through those days when I feel like giving it all up, for a trip out west.