Journalists are finally being shown in a good light. The reporters, just days ago dismissed as “scum”, are now celebrated as they report on, photograph and film riots across London and the UK.
Someone even mentioned that reporters are on low pay while they respond to early morning calls to report on and film burning cars, looted shops and the smashed windows along high streets.
A fortnight ago Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, blogs denounced journalists – not differentiating between tabloids and locals, not wondering if reporters writing for Cat World or Timber Monthly would even have reason to hack a phone. This is not to say there isn’t investigative potential in these publications – but journalists do a wide range of jobs. We’ve always done a wide range of jobs – and done them at all hours of the day, in all weathers and not always while wearing a hack mac, trilby and a pig snout. Although I do admit to frequently wearing a hack mac.
We did this long before the News of the World hacking and will continue to do so long after. My experience of midnight calls to chase Lottery winners and to interview protestors tied to trees might not be as dramatic as covering riots but were run-of-the-mill.
On many a night I was woken from my slumber by a national news editor irritated at being on call and keen to make someone else feel bad. I’d crawl out of bed, half-cut or half-asleep, and drive across the country. I once sat outside the home of as Spice Girl, after just three hours sleep, before driving hundreds of miles for a police press conference, then to another Spice Girl home before driving hundreds of miles home some 18 hours later.
As a local reporter I spent whole nights with people protesting at the building of a motorway through a country park. I interviewed people up trees, down holes, handcuffed to buildings and cemented into buckets. I was there when the protestors moved in, when they celebrated good news and when the bailiffs moved in to remove them.
The best reports of the riots in the UK are those coming from local papers – many now facing staff cuts. It is true that newspaper closures will affect reporting, hinder important coverage of events that matter to people. With fewer reporters come fewer reports.
It’s also as a result of such cuts that I’m now an unemployed hack with enough money to buy bread, eggs and cat food to last a week.
Amount of money I have: £17.88
Jobs to apply for: 6
Activities planned: Watching the news