It’s hard not to be cynical, isn’t it? Phone taps. Intrusions. The sheer puerile nature of the front page coverage of nobodies doing nothing, elevated to the status of somebodies by some sense of community interest. How askew have our priorities become? Jaded by the misery, we elevate false idols and then wail when they let us down. And the media, hungry for hits, desperate for circulation, plays the game and delivers poorly constructed, poorly edited superficiality and wonders why they lose market share. By sacrificing the high ground, they lose the only ground they ever had, becoming just another blog of bluster and blame rather than a source of information and understanding. Regurgitation without questioning. Hyperbole is not the journalist’s friend.
And then you get the news that arrived today, and you wonder how the hell it came to this, that it takes the death of three good men to make you realise that it isn’t all bad. That buried under the dire vile of the commentators and the sensationalists, there are honest journos out there delivering the goods. That the Fourth Estate still means something.
The loss of journalist Paul Lockyer, cameraman John Bean and pilot Gary Ticehurst in a helicopter crash is a sad day indeed for the ABC, the trio’s families and friends, their peers. Despite the economic rationalisation continuing to change the face of the media workplace, despite the Federal Government’s push to make service subservient to budget surplus, despite the erosion of the code of ethics tarring all with the same unseemly brush, the good guys still try to make sure the truth gets out. Whether anyone wants to hear it is anyone’s guess.
I remember my first editor, more than 20 years ago, lamenting how the journalist was no longer welcome at the door. How once you’d be invited in for tea and scones; now you were viewed with suspicion, antagonism or an eye to manipulation. It’s the professionals like Lockyer who defy that prejudice, who keep our trust in the Fourth Estate alive. Read this article about Lockyer’s impact in Grantham and you’ll get an inkling of why I still believe; of why I feel the touch of sadness for the loss of people I’ve never met; and the disappointment that it can take a tragedy to expose the good work done by a maligned profession. Vale.