Proud to be a journalist…
PROUD to be a journalist…
Post Leveson and even as Paul Dacre seems to be doing his absolute best to bring our profession into disrepute, I am and always will be proud to call myself a journalist.
I know and, in the past, have experienced that some members of the public find the idea of what we do somehow seedy, or under-hand and that anyone making a living out of telling stories about the trials and tribulations of others must be, at best, ruthless or, at worst, immoral.
The Daily Mail has always been a newspaper which has based its considerable success on stirring up public emotion, tuning into and exploiting public angst and never apologising for it – even when that attempt to chime with readers spills over into incitement or bigotry.
The recent furore surrounding it and its long-standing editor who refuses, even now backed into a corner over the paper’s coverage of Mr Miliband diseased is hallmark Daily Mail and strikes at the heart of why I find reading it so uncomfortable.
Nevertheless, I would never seek to banish the Mail from out news-stands or hold it up as an example of why journalists and journalism, in this country, has gone to the wall.
Far from it, I celebrate the fact that in this digital age we still have a news media so diverse and so multi-faceted that so many views and political persuasions are represented across news-stands, on the internet and in broadcasts throughout the UK every single day.
In this country, in our national press we have balance; perhaps not always within one publication but certainly by taking all publications which make up the British press as a whole.
Similarly, our broadcasters, the main ones being BBC, ITV and Sky, in fierce competition for ratings, each work hard to stand out from the other, making any suggestion that media organisations are somehow in league, following some sort of shared agenda, quite farcical.
And then of course we have our regional news organisations. The comprehensive network, provided by BBC and ITN and the countless number of regional newspaper titles all understanding that their very survival depends on how close they are to the communities in which they exist, is unrivalled by any in the world .
When it comes to holding local government to account, campaigning against cuts to services, fighting for justice or providing a voice for the ordinary man or woman on the street; to whom else could the public turn?
Think of the countless stories which have overturned decisions to close schools or hospital wings or have highlighted mal-practice in nursing homes or children’s homes. And whilst some of these stories may even make it to the national news, most, if not all, are generated in the regions, brought to the wicket by a local journalist with grass-root contacts, who knows her readers or who understand her audience.
Whilst the national media may un-cover MPs who fiddle their expenses, may campaign against mis-carriages of justices in our courts and highlight scandals on a nationwide-scale, it is the regional media which is closest to communities and individuals with horror stories which may only affect them and who have no one else to tell their tale of woe.
It is these outlets, and the journalists who work within, which are truly a force for good; working to ensure the profession, sometimes unnoticed beyond circulation or transmission areas, lives up to its remit of being “The Fourth Estate”.
And so, if the Mail was the only paper which the British public had access to then you could argue that would represent a dangerous and corrosive influence.
But it isn’t. Although it has its place – and last week Paul Dacre was certainly put in his – it should never be allowed to overshadow the brilliant and necessary efforts of journalists every day who believe their job is to bring injustices to light and make lives just that little bit fairer for the rest us all.
And it is for this reason that I urge all of you, enrolled here on our courses at CBJ, to always be proud to call yourself a journalist.
Gail Mellors (Course leader, BA Broadcast Journalism).