Opinion

The ugly side of journalism

I’d never thought about being a journalist until about a year or so ago, as it’s not really a job that gets sold to you when you’re in primary school.  I realised that I loved writing, especially about the things that I love. I also wanted to write about other people, sharing their stories through my writing if they were willing to share. That’s essentially what I thought journalism was about, and why I decided I wanted to be a part of it. 

Unfortunately, more recently I’ve realised that it’s not as ideal as I thought. My discovery of the ugly side of journalism began last summer when I did some work experience at a local newspaper. It was meant to be for a week, but it ended up being only three days as I decided to leave. On the second day I went with the photographer to the Magistrate Court to get photos of some of the people standing before the judge. There was one particularly sensitive case, that I thought definitely did not need to be shared with the general public. Even the photographer was having second thoughts about taking photos, but the newspaper still wanted to go ahead with it. I was angry because I watched a woman who was suffering cry in front of the court, and now her face was going to be published purely for the profit of the newspaper and people’s ‘entertainment.’ That’s when I decided that I didn’t want to be a part of what they were doing anymore.

I know that not all publications have this type of content, but I can’t help but feel that if I want to get anywhere in the world of journalism, that I am going to have to start at places like this, and I don’t think I’m prepared to do that. 

In light of what has happened recently with Caroline Flack, I’ve been thinking about the way publications like ‘The Sun’ and ‘The Daily Mail’ write. To me, it’s just a bit pathetic, it’s not true journalism. Stories are to be told, but you can be a great journalist without harassing people. 

Not all journalists are bad. Even though I’m not a professional journalist (yet), I do not want to exploit people – I want to uplift them.  So please, whenever you can, try to read something positive, preferably something with more depth than what ‘Kim K’ is, or is not, getting up to. You’re not a bad person if you do read things like this, because I think everyone is guilty of it. It’s easy to stand there and slate tabloids now that Caroline Flack is dead, but it’s actions that make a difference at the end of the day. Tabloids are toxic. Don’t read them. Instead of slating and blaming journalists, make an effort to find some publications that employ journalists who want to make a positive impact in our society. If you’re looking for something new to read, why not some of the great publications based here in Bristol such as Bristol 24/7, Whatsonbristol and even HUB Magazine!

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