What aspiring journalist hasn’t sat transfixed by a BBC news broadcast, as a senior reporter jumps at the sound of a bomb exploding behind her or a nearing hurricane wave? These are the moments when young editors push back from their desks and exclaim, “I am sick of re-writing press releases and correcting other people’s horrible English grammar! I’m becoming a reporter!”
It is with this sentiment that I find myself disgusted with my current situation. Somehow, in the midst of making my major life decision to jump ship and pack my bags for France, I have landed myself in a town called, “the wrong place at the wrong time.” I’ve missed everything.
After spending years impassioned by the Tibetan freedom cause, working as a reporter within the Tibetan communities in India and Minneapolis, I end up missing the biggest protests by the Tibetan community since perhaps the Uprising in 1959 in Lhasa. Those moments preceding the Beijing Olympics were priceless, of epic importance, and I was stuck in a town of 40,000 mostly white, French, close-minded people who couldn’t care less. I do remember voicing my opinions about the subject to some of my co-workers, but I don’t remember any of them giving a damn. When I think about all those articles that could have been written, those communities who could have been given a voice, the power of having my words in print on a subject I am deeply passionate about, it truly makes me ill.
Then, this past week, I was confronted once again with this wrong-place-wrong-time syndrome. What are the odds that within the same year that I am off galavanting in France, the Republican National Convention just so happens to be held in my hometown? Everyday, I watch as protesters, journalists, friends get locked up for speaking their minds about John McCain, a man whose importance in the world is, as of yet, only imagined.
I am missing out. And while I do appreciate all those press releases I’ve gotten lately from around the Dordogne (the region of France where I live) about river flood watches, vaccinations of local cows and the recent visit by the Ukrainian delegation, I have to stop myself from tearing up. Rationally, I know that satisfaction comes from within, that a person is a person and, just like CNN says in their commercial, everyone has a story. But at what point does one story outshine another in its level of importance in the world? Shouldn’t all stories, all peoples’ plights, be created equal?
Perhaps my reaction is the media’s own fault. Maybe I, too, have been brainwashed to believe that certain events in the world lack significance. Why else would stories I read and consider important get lost amongst those regarding war, famine and trauma? Are the only good stories the ones that shock, humiliate and shake us from our safe little worlds?
Journalists face these questions on a daily basis and are paid to make decisions based on their answers. In the end, the majority wins. Gotta please the people. And money is what gets the job done in many instances. Is there any hope for rational, objective, fair and equal journalism? Until humans are able to acquire such great qualities within themselves, I am not so sure…