With the expected trial of reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee in North Korea this week, I was once again reminded of the incredible sacrifices that journalists make to bring us stories from around the world. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported 125 cases of imprisonment in 2008, and has confirmed the deaths of 14 journalists from eight countries in 2009.
Ling and Lee were reporting on female refugees abducted by human traffickers when the two were said to have crossed the border from China. (Ling is the sister of well-known reporter Lisa Ling.)
It frustrates me sometimes that in many conservative religious circles, the media has been so demonized that journalists receive little respect for what they do. I know of Christians who care deeply about genocide and human trafficking and refugees and hunger...but who speak with disdain about the very reporters who so often bring these stories to light.
Is punditry out of control? Yes. Is cable news a waste of time? Probably. But there are a lot of reporters investigating and writing about stuff that really matters. Having read several memoirs/series from reporters involved in Iraq, Afghanistan, Rwanda, and Darfur, I am convinced that most of these men and women take their jobs very seriously and genuinely want to tell the truth about what they observe.
Working as a newspaper reporter myself for a short time, I also know that even at smaller news outlets, the hours are long, the pay terrible, and the emotional toll high. I too was accused of having a liberal bias and “hating Christianity” – ironic considering that, at the time, I was a recent Christian college graduate and adamant Bush supporter.
Let’s keep Ling and Lee in our prayers...and perhaps show a bit more caution before making general statements about the media.
Do you have a favorite journalist? How have certain reporters or news outlets contributed to your understanding of the world and your awareness of important social issues?