When I conduct a media coaching session, I often hear from people who don’t like reporters — some even hate reporters. My instinct is to defend media because I like reporters and I truly appreciate the job they do. It’s not an easy one given the deadlines they face — not just to produce copy or file a report for the next day, but for the next hour and the next hour after that in this digital age. The reality is reporters are being asked to do more and more with far fewer resources. On a weekly basis (or, so it seems), there’s another large media corp taking the axe to a bunch of jobs. I feel for these people.
Every cut also does real damage to our communities. Not too long ago, the Guelph Mercury News shuttered its print edition and cut all of its staff without too much fanfare or protest. Now a city of 115,00 people is without a daily newspaper that served its community since 1853. I say ‘served’ because we need the media to play a strong role in defending our rights and freedoms, whether it’s against government abuse or a corporation putting profit ahead of social responsibility.
The recent Panama Papers leak and ongoing media reports from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) stands as a testament of how good reporting can hold the people with power to account for their actions. It’s a high profile story with strong investigative reporters working it. These reporters worked their way up through a system that’s being hacked away at by corporate interests. Investigative journalism will not look the same in the future. The ICIJ is partially a product of the fact that media outlets are under the constant threat of cost-saving cuts. It’s an innovative response to cover such a large story, but given the changing face of media — I’m concerned whether there will be jobs for investigative reporters in the future.
We need more reporters! Some are good (very good), and I acknowledge that some are bad, but they do provide an important measure of balance in a world where the balance of power has shifted too far in favour of the rich and powerful.