Digging a well to be filled
A friend sent a message about an issue that happened back in the closing days of the previous century. “Do you remember how excited we were in successfully completing that important thing hours before the start of the new millennium?” he asked. Indeed, 20 years and many months have elapsed since that day and unfortunately the very important development that my friend believed was worth remembering now has long become past for me. Still, with the note sent by my friend, I remembered those days when I was guiding my colleagues as the managing editor of the Daily News every day, telling them to dig a well of news and filling it back to dig a new one the next day…
Being skeptical about everything, refusing to feel satisfied with shallow or superficial explanations and probably refusing to engage in such level of friendships with sources of information that may make it impossible to write anything against them were among the fundamentals of the profession. There were, are and probably will be members of the journalism profession who prefer to subscribe to a political ideology or support a political leader.
Obviously, as individuals, journalists do as well have the right to develop such affinities. Yet, in doing the business such “professional deformations” unfortunately sometimes might become impossible to avoid.
Seeing the same development glorified in an article in one newspaper or TV news bulletin, while in another news article, reading a totally disgusting version of the same issue might be considered “a product of perception” and it might be perfectly correct. However, often such sharp contrasts might as well be products of “professional deformations,” including and definitely not limited to, a journalist’s membership in a political party, political aspirations, business or personal interest concerns.
Once upon a time, dispatched to interview a leading political figure of a neighboring country, one of my correspondents came back from the assignment all smiling, showing the staff how successful she was that she was presented a gold bracelet. She was immediately dismissed, obviously. But was she the only one that might have been captured with the charm of bribery, be in the form of a bracelet or an expensive pen, carpets and such? Over the years I came across with many such cases, and since, I quit executive positions back in February 2008, I have been stressing the importance of ethics in the journalism profession.
If I am given an opportunity for a new start, would I be a journalist again? No journalist who enjoyed this profession for decades might wish to do something else if given a second chance. Worse, if contrary to the belief that a journalist can never retire from the profession decides to abandon the profession and do something else, I have not heard any success story – except a few who opened a bar or a restaurant.
Going through newspapers, watching TV news programs and listening to commentaries on the TV screens have become almost impossible for this journalist of 41 years. Why? Unfortunately, the “If you are depressed, take a dose or two reporting by the X-channel” joke of a Western diplomatic friend constitutes the backbone of the problem at hand.
Journalists should not forget that we dig wells of information every day and serve to satisfy the news thirst of people. At the end of every day, journalists fill those wells back so that they can dig new ones the next morning.