Hello dear reader, if you’re visiting my public Facebook page or examining this content on my personal site (I like to cross-post at times.), this usually means one of two things. You’re either a friend or an acquaintance who has known me for some time, or you’re a complete stranger brand knew to my work.
If the first is true, it’s good to see you again! If the second is the case, welcome. I’m sure you have a number of questions about what I have chosen to do to make my living and I’ll gladly guess what they are (Since you’re not in front of me.) and do my damnedest to answer quite a few or even all of them.
Let’s begin shall we, and keep in mind these answers are partly shaped by my experiences.
Do journalists print whatever they want?
Contrary to what some ideologues of leftist and rightist political orientations might think, no, we do not get to print whatever we want. More often than not, a great deal of assignments you see making it to publication have come down the pipe from editors and can be changed extensively before being seen by the public’s eyeballs. I’d love to just write about crime and shady financial corruption all day, but sometimes people want to hear about cats and your humble and increasingly balding correspondent here has got to keep eating.
Why does the news ignore Thing X, Y or Z?
Like my earlier answer, this is primarily outside the hands of reporters (Both on television and in other forms of media.). More so than the others, broadcast is the worst offender. At the highest levels, a lot of power is steeped in the hands of producers. Coming from an entertainment background on occasion, they focus on what draws in ratings, not what the society in which they live in needs to know. As a result, things get overlooked and suffer.
What motivated you to become a journalist?
Well, that question, like so many in life, has a lengthy answer. So, if you don’t have anywhere to go. Keep reading and you’ll be treated to some formative moments on the path to where I am.
At a young age (And as I get older the exact time gets fuzzy), I was treated to my first comic or other form of media published by the acclaimed “House of Ideas” that is Marvel. Seeing the work of the legendarily prolific artist Jack Kirby and later being exposed to his vision on the big screen crystallized in me a drive to do the right thing. Like the characters I followed on the page and in the theater, I too could do the right thing. My flaws didn’t matter and nor did my wealth, intellect or physique. If you were a good person, in Kirby’s world you had a role to serve in society. Maybe it sounds silly, but I think I take that to heart, whatever my flaws, I like to help others. If I wasn’t in a job where I could right government wrongs and serve the public at the same time, I would be a restless and wretched man, flitting from one place to the next.
As I got older and began to read more, comics – though thankfully not totally – gave way to large books. Hardcover and soft, my days were spent mentally venturing around with fictitious wizards and criminal 12-year-old geniuses, though, sometimes, I did decide to pick up true stories.
Flash forward, its 2008. I’m in the early stages of high school and, on a whim, I picked up a book by British author David Loyn. The story? A group of men who, in the ‘90s, got together and as a group, shot some of the most infamous conflict journalism footage of the entire decade. The Gulf War, Kosovo, the coup in Russia, the men of Frontline were there. After reading of Rory Peck and Peter Jouvenal, I resolved I would be too. No matter how crazy I seemed to others.
Now, its 2011. I’m nearing moving on to a university education, but at the time I’m in my basement. In front of me, an extraordinary man has just met his end. His name was “Mo” or Mohammed Al Nabbous.
During the revolt against Qadaffi in Libya, this 28-year-old threw away all the comforts and safety of his life to do the right thing. When others ran or succumbed to the temptation to sink to the level of autocrats in their rebellious actions, this gentleman became a reporter.
With lines like “I am not afraid to die, I am afraid to lose the battle,” this fellow had me. In another life, he would’ve been a good friend. I wept at his death, but learned deeply from him. Like Kirby and the men of Frontline, Mo knew what we all know in the journalism work field.
Life, it’s not about the money, it’s not about comfort, and it’s never about playing it safe. Whether you’re an artist making genius work daily and barely scraping by or a reporter in a small town or on the front lines, you have an obligation as a human being to serve others.
To quote an underrated film, “if you can do good things for other people, you have a moral obligation to do them.” That’s why I got into this space dear reader, and that’s why I’ll never quit.