I have made no secret how I got involved in journalism. If there was no war in the former Yugoslavia, then Alexandra Kitty would have been a jury psychologist. She would be assessing potential jurors, and making recommendations who should sit on a case and who should be rejected.
But life had other ideas, and I became a journalist.
I was never given “dark stories” to write, even though I always pitched them. I saw raw footage of dead bodies when I shot listed, but actually, the opportunity to do those kinds of stories were not forthcoming. When you cover crime stories, a lot of it involves talking to police, getting press releases and going to press conferences. Even war reporting in the modern era has reporters riding along not close to the conflict as they were “embedded” with ally soldiers.
Some who ventured off into dangerous territory, such as Daniel Pearl, were kidnapped, tortured, and either held for ransom and/or murdered. It is not as if the profession never gets in danger, but that kind of reportage is rare. You are more likely going to get to cover TIFF than a war zone, and truth be told, sadly, more people will tune to you interviewing actors than soldiers.
But this ruling in Australia that “traumatized” journalists need compensation for it. Does the public have the right to demand the same compensation if the press regularly traumatizes them?
We have had falsely accused people be demonized in the press. I know I was traumatized by the propagandistic coverage of the Yugoslav — far more than watching the devastating footage that directly contradicted what the media proclaimed.
Because when the consensus is that your people are villains, and you know that is not the truth, but the label is permanently stuck on you as you are watching footage that shows atrocities being ignored by the press, you can never go back to your previous sense of trust — and you know that that same disreputable group will do everything to make that dishonest label stick on you if push came to shove, accusing you of everything of deception to insanity.
But that doesn’t count.
What this ruling will do is give media companies the freedom of never assigning anything that can be deemed “traumatic.” Go cover the starlets at TIFF. That’s safe and cheap.
Because that’s what they are doing when they are not gossiping about Donald Trump or Justin Trudeau…