Today’s journalists face new dangers

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The Islamic military group known as ISIS killed Steven Sotloff and James Foley, both American journalists. While these two were the most recent and widely publicized in a while, they are not alone. The hard truth is that many journalists are killed while covering a story. 

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 385 journalists were killed during work-related assignments during 2008. In 2012 alone, 70 were killed; 74 in 2013. 

When the general public looks at news anchors and reporters, most do not see the underlying danger that we face on a daily basis when covering our assignments. Investigative journalists face the danger of being sued, or sought after for uncovering and releasing information on criminals and wrongful acts committed by citizens. Meteorologists and weather reporters are constantly being thrust into the middle of natural disasters and severe weather just so that viewers receive information on current conditions. Foreign correspondents and freelance journalists often find themselves in the midst of civil wars, dodging bullets and suicide bombs as if they are defending a country, and not documenting the occurrence.

While attending the 2014 Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in San Francisco this past summer, I came in contact with many journalists who worked in those conditions every single day. They also told stories of their colleagues who risked their careers, reputations, and their lives, just to report the truth to their circulation. 

It was at this conference that my eyes were opened.  

The truth is, although I imagined myself as a journalist, I did not fit in the notation of being caught in the midst of crossfire and animosity. 

Somehow, that thought escaped my mind. But with the recent beheadings of the American journalists, I began to ponder on just how dangerous journalism is. 

There is no class in college that prepares you for the real world; especially not in journalism. There is no course that teaches you how to prepare to cover a story that may very well be putting your life in danger. 

In all actuality, how could it? No book or lecture by a professor can really prepare you for what lies ahead in the journalistic field. 

Yes, the thought of being stuck in one of those situations scares the heavens out of me. But it is what I so desperately want to do with my life. In some odd, patriotic way, I feel that it is my duty to report the news to America. Even if in doing so, I am putting my own self in harm’s way. 

Despite the subconscious fear of what and where our next story will be, we continue to write and report. 

Other’s will not understand, and may not ever understand the burning desire that a correspondent holds in their heart to report the news.  

The passion that we encompass for our craft goes beyond the apprehension that lives between the lines of our job descriptions. 

We are journalists. 

  • Laci Ollison Word Editor