Journalism – the power and the peril

Camden Metheny


Last year, 61 journalists were killed while doing their job. We’re almost prosecuted for telling the world what’s going on. During the Ferguson protests, journalists were being arrested, detained, or prevented from reporting on the events. A few days after the protests in Ferguson, an American journalist named James Foley was beheaded by the Islamic State of Iraq, or, ISIS. Then, in the second week of January, 2015, eight cartoonists for the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were murdered in their offices.

Journalists the world over are being looked down on as bottom-feeders, trying to get the most out of any tragedy.  Journalists flock towards danger  because people deserve to know what’s happening. They need an accurate representation of current world events. Sadly, in today’s day and age, there are more horrible events than good ones, but that doesn’t mean journalists should just stay at home and report the news ignorantly.

As a student journalist in high school, I feel the need that these tragedies should be talked about. With the recent attacks in Paris, and even the journalists being captured by ISIS, some would think twice about entering the journalism field. But with everything, there will be people that are offended by what you write or produce, and some people are extreme enough to take action against journalists. In countries like Iraq or North Korea, countries without free speech, you’re taking your life into your own hands and you have to be cautious, because you can be captured and detained or even killed.

Sometimes journalists are condemned in our own country. After the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, various news outlets rushed in so they could capture the story. Police, however, felt that it shouldn’t be publicized, so matters were taken into their own hands. They arrested various journalists, two of which were from the Washington Post. These journalists were doing their job, and the police were infringing the journalists’ rights towards free speech. Sure, the media may have focused on one subject for too long, but they were updating their stories as the events unfolded.

Journalists also have the power to take a tragic event and help the people involved. Take Hurricane Katrina, for example. In 2005, it hit New Orleans and caused a massive amount of damage. No one would’ve known the extent of the damage if it wasn’t for journalists covering the disaster. They essentially forced the government into helping the citizens.  Another example is when journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein exposed Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal.

We have a very strong power in this country. Journalists can help cities, impeach presidents, and even bring communities closer together.