As the deadliest country in the world for journalists right now, Syria provides an illustrative example of both the dangers that media professionals face in conflict zones and the importance of their roles in painting an accurate picture of the realities of the conflict on the ground.
Marie O’Reilly in her article “Protecting Journalists in Conflict Zones: Lessons from Syria" on Global Observatory discusses policies of journalist protection in conflict zones as well as the journalist’s difficulties of reporting accurately without that protection.
Related: The Revolution is Being Televised, a documentary following activists who document the activities in Syria.
I don’t get to complain anymore. It’s just true. Some of the most delicious time that you spend as a journalist is like, complaining. At no times have I had fewer actual friends to gossip with, and kind of complain with, or at least commiserate with. That is a hard part of being the boss. Newsrooms are just full of cantankerous complaining people. It’s so enjoyable to be part of that.
Should people pay journalists and photojournalists to do what they do? As long as someone wants credible information the role of the professional remains important, but the role changes in that professionals are no longer the eyewitness. Think of all those [photography compilation] books in the 20th century which were called “eye witness” or “the eyes of the world” or something similar. That’s no longer relevant when there are 4 billion cellphone eyes out there.
Professionals are valuable as commentators, interpreters, validators. We know what is happening in Syria but for sifting all the detail and taking a position on all of that, we still look to the professionals.
Last year, during the Arab Spring, it was the “good little guy” against the “big bad guy”. Simple. Now, we are seeing is a much more complex mix of bad little guys as well a good little guys. I am learning all the different computations from experts — people who are studying the form, researching it, being present and reporting back out. That’s not something I can put together from Facebook. I need someone to guide me through that very complex area.
Branding is not about growing inequality but growing equality. In the old world there were a few big-name hotshot star journalists, and a lot of regular hacks pushing anonymous news. In future more and more journalists will be stars — some big stars shining all over, some smaller but maybe brighter stars twinkling to some important niche audience. And if a journalist has no twinkle whatsoever — then it’s time to find something else to do.
Saska Saarikoski, Brands, Stars and Regular Hacks — a changing relationship between news institutions and journalists (PDF).
Saarikoski, a former culture editor at Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat, conducted surveys and interviews with editors, publishers and reporters about the issues raised by the branding of journalists. The result is this recent report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.
Can I reliably trust you to tell me what is going on? If the answer is yes, then I don’t care if you work out of a newsroom or out of your garage.