Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Think of Journalists as First Responders

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Think of Journalists as First Responders

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Clark

They are first responders, often arriving first at the scene of unbearable tragedies.

They put their lives at risk to do their jobs.

Their spouses, friends and families worry about them as they enter some of the most dangerous areas of their cities, countries and the world.

When they come home from their work, they often suffer in silence, becoming prone to depression or PTSD.

You may be thinking of our military or our police officers, but there is another group of first responders who often are forgotten. I am talking about my fellow journalists.

I have covered murders and plane crashes and hostage incidents and traveled through some of Jacksonville's most dangerous neighborhoods, but I haven't done anything like the journalists who cover war or drug dealers and really put their lives on the line.

Now journalists are being kidnapped and assassinated and beheaded at increasing rates worldwide.

This goes double for photographers. As a reporter I can often step out of the way. Photographers have to stick their noses right in the middle of the action, often putting their own safety at risk.

As a group, we don't write about how we do our jobs that often. It's part of our culture to tell the story first.

But people often do not realize how much time and effort goes into good reporting. In some cases that includes rushing into dangerous situations.

Journalism, believe it or not, is a military-style culture. Just get the story. Meet the deadline. No excuses. If you can't cut it, get out.

You have to love the work. And for a few of us, it means putting lives on the line.


Pardon me if I don't think the idea of a journalist trying to assassinate the North Korean leader was either especially clever or responsible in the movie "The Interview."

We have too many examples of people in other cultures who presume journalists are spies and don't understand "fake news. …

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