We come in contact with peoples lives sometimes at the most stressful and traumatic times of their lives. We have to make contact to get closer to the story and in the process hope to make an image that gives meaning the tragedy. The publics reaction to our being there and attempting to do our jobs are wide ranging and often dramatic. Most ignore us, some look and treat us with disgust and others open up their lives and let us in. Despite popular belief, due mainly to the sensationalism inflicted on us by major media outlets like Fox and The New York Post, for many of us, we are truly there to service them and our readership. There are situations that I believe we should not be cover and if it were not for some middle management person making a bad call, I would rather not be there at all. If I get a clear indication that the family does not want us around then I have no problem what so ever in walking away.
When we come in contact with people who never had any experience with the media and we have to cut through layers of perceptions about who we are and what we really do. Many times people perceptions are justified, but rarely in the circumstances that are currently impacting on their lives.
Our profession has evolved and in many instances devolved from the mission of keeping government open and transparent and monitoring the issues that affect our communities. We struggle with being reactive to breaking news and then struggle some more to go beyond the initial headlines that lead us to the story. In many cases we seriously underestimate our readership and pander to the lowest common denominator simply because we don't want to offend too many people. We live in a time where so called 'real news,' is dictated by news corporations with their own political agendas and where new generations of readers and viewers equate freedom of the press, ethics and objectivity with that of the tabloids and the papparazzi. People now turn to the internet and pick up information that in many instances are inaccurate or downright dangerous. They don't realize the check and balances that exists in the modern newsroom and the dire consequences that face members of the media when they violate those ethical polices. This is something that many websites do not have in place.
We live in a society of information overkill with a small minority of people able to siff through the chaff to get the information that they need. Disinformation is the trend and good solid journalism is the prime target.