In praise of ‘the media’ doing their job

Everyone has an opinion on “the media” today because the pampered TV anchors and insular political reporters have once again made it easy to narrowly define the term, with their ridiculous annual decision to party with the people they’re supposed to be covering.

That, for many people, is “the media.” Whatever criticism the “journalists” in Washington are getting today, they brought it on themselves.

Not shown nor considered are all the journalists in the world who were busy doing their jobs and may not even own tuxedos and evening gowns.

Eamon Javers, a CNBC correspondent, reminded us of that fact on Twitter Monday by noting this video, released by the FBI last week, of reporters, a congressman, staffers, and others preparing to leave the Guyana cult home, Jonestown, on November 18, 1978.

Reporters had accompanied Rep. Leo Ryan on an investigation into the cult.

Men loyal to cult leader Jim Jones arrived to try to kill them all.

The NBC cameraman who took the video, Bob Brown, was among those murdered. So was NBC correspondent Don Harris and San Francisco Examiner photographer Greg Robinson. And so was the congressman.

Javers’ father, Ron (shown in the floppy hat), a managing editor with Newsweek, was shot, escaped into the jungle.

It was just a few months later that ABC reporter Bill Stewart was executed while covering a civil war in Nicaragua as his camera crew watched.

It’s not hard to find similar video. Reporters have been dying doing their jobs courageously for generations.

There wasn’t an abundance of courage in a Washington ballroom over the weekend, but that doesn’t define the business.

These people do.

Related: ‘A dark day’: Tributes for journalists killed in Kabul (Al Jazeera)

(h/t: Paul Tosto)

  • jwest8

    Thank you for reminding us that there are real journalists out there. The annual “dinner” in Washington was offensive long before it became the hate fest it is now. Not only do most people not own formal attire, most people can’t even afford to rent it. The coverage has always smacked of “I’ve got mine. Too bad for you.”.

  • MrE85

    I never watch the annual WHCD, but I enjoy Bob having a fit about it every year.

    On a more serious note, journalists have often gone unarmed into dangerous places to bring us honest information on what is happening in the world. Far too many have paid with their lives, as Shah Marai did. They are true heroes. every one.

    • // but I enjoy Bob having a fit about it every year.

      Way to minimize a serious breach of journalism ethics.

      You should be in the business.

      Oh, wait.

      • Jim E

        Where does an event such as MinnRoast fall on the journalism ethics spectrum?

        BTW, St Paul Mayor Melvin Carter was incredible!

        • Most every journalist (that I respect) doesn’t like it.

          I’ve only been to one. I was shocked at what a DFL pep fest it was and I’m never going back.

          That said, that Mel Carter bit was pretty funny. And his point that “only women and people of color surprise anyone by sounding articulate’ was dead on.

          On the whole, though, I think personal relationships can color a journalists approach to a story involving politicians and it’s best to be an outsider, not an insider.

    • MikeB

      I think it is just a matter of time until we see an incident against journalists here. “The Enemy of the People” rhetoric is taking hold.

  • John O.

    The vitriol spewed “inside the beltway” (and elsewhere) in recent times provides an abundance of social media fodder for all sides. It does not help the journalism profession when some of these bloated egos poke the dragons constantly on Twitter while, at the same time, self-promoting their books, lectures, seminars, etc.

  • Mike Worcester

    Two organisations I have tremendous respect for:
    Doctors Without Borders
    Reporters Without Borders

    They do work that many of us would struggle to even imagine about doing.

  • Barton

    These journalists should be celebrated, and believed. Those that risk their lives to bring us the information needed to understand what is happening. I remember watching the footage re: Jonestown on TV (I was 8 years old). My parents believed it was important to watch the news and understand what was going on – they explained the situation in Vietnam much better than they were able to explain what was happening at Jonestown. I wouldn’t take the communion cup at church for a long while after that happened….

    And all this brought back the story of Ernie Pyle. My grandmom kept his obituary for decades after he was killed.

    “Ernie Pyle Is Killed on Ie Island; Foe Fired When All Seemed Safe
    Wireless to THE NEW YORK TIMES
    GUAM, April, 18–Ernie Pyle died today on Ie Island, just west of Okinawa, like so many of the doughboys he had written about. The nationally known war correspondent was killed instantly by Japanese machine-gun fire.

    The slight, graying newspaper man, chronicler of the average American soldier’s daily round, in and out of foxholes in many war theatres, had gone forward early this morning to observe the advance of a well-known division of the Twenty-fourth Army Corps….”