By: Tony Davis
While working for a local paper on an internship this summer, I sat in a room amongst citizens concerned their hospital had been repeatedly shut down, requiring them to drive an hour or more for adequate emergency services. It was mid summer and the emergency room at the Kings County Memorial Hospital had been shut down 20 times since the fall. The room in the Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre in Montague was filled, and a government official took the podium and said it was the media’s fault…
He said doctors didn’t want to stay in Montague because when they Googled the town, articles would populate the search about the regular closures of the Kings County Memorial Hospital.
“As soon as they (Doctors) do a Kings Memorial ER search on Google, this is the type of story that comes up. Then all the sudden they have concerns,” he said.
I personally don’t believe anyone in a newsroom on Prince Edward Island is thrilled to write an article about a hospital closure. I don’t think any reporter takes joy in rewriting the press release, sent out by the hospitals and government, leaving media groups to be the bearer of bad news. Ever hear the saying don’t shoot the messenger? Apparently not.
Jarrod Ramos never got that memo. The Capital Gazette is a paper in Maryland which reported on Ramos when he went to court, where he pleaded guilty to harassment. In 2012 he sued the paper for defamation and lost.
Ramos was charged with killing five people and injuring two more at the Capital Gazette office in Annapolis on June 28.
The Capital Gazette printed a front-page story on the shooting which happened in their own offices. Their friends and colleagues slaughtered and in the name of free press and in a show of defiance against those who wish to impose fear they wrote their story. They reported on the facts, got a story out about their murdered co-workers proving terror and fear will never trump free speech.
Chase Cook, a reporter with the Capital Gazette, tweeted on the day of the shooting, “I can tell you this: We are putting out a damn paper tomorrow.”
No one should be killed over what they write in a news story from a court case opened to the public. People supported the journalists killed and wounded at the Capital Gazette, but two weeks later people were pushing the all too familiar ‘fake news’ narrative attacking the credibility of reporters once again.
The lengths reporters have to go in order to prove themselves in the battle against the fake news phenomena is ridiculous. Anderson Cooper spent nearly ten minutes explaining a picture of himself waist deep in water from a 2008 hurricane that the U.S. President’s son claimed was a fake picture of Hurricane Florence.
A few weeks ago the CBC radio show As it Happens posted a story about an incident the BBC covered where they posted a video of what appeared to be Cameroonian soldiers shooting two woman and two children.
The government of Cameroon called the on-camera slaughter “fake news.” I wonder where they got that line. So, the BBC’s Eye on Africa team decided to investigate the case even further. Reporters eventually placed the execution to a northern Cameroon village and identified three men who were seen on video shooting at helpless women and children. The government would go on to charge seven military members. Three of those seven were men identified by the Eye on Africa team.
Journalists have been challenging authority for a long time on the things they try and tell the public. They were there to reveal Nixon’s dirty tricks during the Watergate scandal. I’m not saying they are perfect, but when journalists get it wrong… it is often other journalists who set the record straight.
In July, Ron Shaw, a reporter for CTV, falsely tweeted that protesters caused a military band to cancel a planned outdoor concert in Halifax at Grande Parade. The truth was shown in Jacob Boon’s post on The Coast where he revealed the military band never had a planned concert, they were just at the location for a photo op while in town. These U.S. military band members accidently walked into a protest about ‘Trump’s war on children.’ People were upset with the treatment of child refugees at the border. The military band walked in and walked out. Boon described it as uneventful.
I understand there have been mistakes made in journalism along the way. There has been mistakes in every industry, but some of the attacks are unwarranted. No journalist can control when a hospital opens or closes, or who gets charged with a crime, or when a school is full of mold or whose body gets found.
Journalists don’t cause the car accidents; we are just the ones who have to take the pictures.