Charlie asked what I, as a trained and sometimes-practicing journalist, think of Caroyln Cole’s work at the Church of the Nativity.
Well, the story linked here hits on precisely why I’m not a full-time journalist slogging words for some magazine full-time and climbing the ladder towards editorship. What usually passes for journalism today can at best be considered advocacy; in the case of what Cole sometimes practices, it’s better described as fraud.
As far as throwing rocks in order to be able to take more exciting pictures of a crowd’s reaction, that’s the most despicable act in all of journalism. She should have been fired and blacklisted on the spot for that action. In Journalism 200, one of the first classes someone takes at the University of Missouri School of Journalism (the oldest and most renowned journalism school in the world), Prof. Don Ranly talks about a photographer who happened upon someone standing on a bridge, intending to commit suicide. Ranly asked us what we would do in that situation. Most of us, still being decent human beings, would have dropped our cameras and done what we could to talk the person out of the deed.
The textbook answer is, no, you don’t interfere, and you snap the picture. Truth be told, if the photo is any good, your chances of winning a Pulitzer are pretty high. Journalists do not interfere with the events happening in front of them.
Most journalists append a corollary to this: Except to save human life.
A physicist once told me you can’t observe an event without affecting it somehow, so that’s an easy justification to make. I also argue that the calling of journalism is not as high as the calling of simple humanity. As a decent human being, I should value the subject’s life more than I value the prize-winning photo. I should be willing to not only refrain from snapping the picture to help; I should also be willing to chuck the camera and all my other gear off the bridge if it would somehow make a difference in saving that life. If I am worth more than many sparrows, then that person’s life is worth more than a camera and a roll or two of film.
I’m not sure that mine is the majority opinion.
But if the morality of stopping a suicide is questionable, the morality of throwing rocks at people in order to photograph their strong reactions is absolutely clear cut. Cole and her liberal cronies will undoubtedly argue that the end justifies her means. To which I would say that’s precisely the logic the Nazis used.
Which seems pretty appropriate to me, seeing as this sorry excuse for a human being, let alone a sorry excuse for a slimy journalist, is cozying up to the modern-day equivalent of the Nazis.
Unfortunately, most editors can’t see far enough past their politically-correct liberal agendas to do the right thing and silence this unethical, immoral, and despicable voice.
And that’s precisely why I rarely practice the craft I dedicated four years of hard work learning.
While we’re on the topic of journalism, something occurred to me today as Gatermann and I were out driving around with our cameras. Gatermann shot pictures of trains; I shot tape of urban decay. What I quickly realized was that I could twist the shots I was taking into just about anything I wanted. A St. Louisan would quickly figure out the story behind the destruction I taped. We shot some tape of a building that accidentally collapsed. We shot some tape of what was probably arson. Other buildings and streets were simply abandoned and overgrown. A St. Louisan could figure that out from context. Someone halfway around the world might not be able to figure that out.
I’m not talking camera tricks here or computerized special effects, either. I’m talking simple tape splicing. You could do it with the crude editing facilities available in a $399 digital camcorder from your local consumer electronics store.
So are the images we’re getting from the Middle East truly accurate? I haven’t been there and I don’t know the area, so I won’t make any judgments on that. I have to leave that up to people who’ve lived in the affected areas for as long as I’ve lived in St. Louis.
But the potential for fraud is enormous. Any video provided to us by the Palestinians ought to be considered for what it likely is: Wartime propaganda.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t fit most journalists’ liberal agendas either.
And now you’re probably starting to see why I was booted off the “official” student newspaper at Mizzou after my junior year. I wasn’t afraid to showcase my disdain for the current, chic P.C. causes of the day. The result of that is those people are still practicing journalism somewhere, while I build and maintain servers for a living.
Sometimes I get the urge to practice journalism again. When that happens, I do one of two things. Sometimes I contact an editor, pitch an idea, write it, and bask in the glow of seeing my name in print once again. There’s no feeling quite like it, though the onslaught of the ‘Net has cheapened it considerably.
“It’s not a habit, it’s cool, I feel alive. If you don’t have it you’re on the other side. I’m not an addict! Maybe that’s a lie…” –K’s Choice
I’m not an addict. I can stop writing any time I want to. I just don’t want to.
Other times the urge to publish comes back, along with all the stupid idealism that says my words can change the world and be remembered long after my death. When that happens, I usually lie down until it goes away.
Truth be told, the world would be much better off if a whole lot more people would learn to recognize their fake saccharine-sweet idealism for what it is and join me.