Have you ever heard or read a comment that immediately made you puff up like a cat? You know, where you can feel yourself start to fuss and hiss, and you get more indignant than you ever thought possible? It may have been something said as an off handed remark or a dig at the end of a rant. Whatever it was, you immediately felt the need to “set the record straight” or defend yourself in a knee jerk reaction.
One place where I often see these kinds of blood pressure raising comments is on the internet, especially on some of the social networking sites. Facebook, Twitter and the others are amazing ways to connect and reconnect with others, as well as for everyone to have a public platform from which to spout their thoughts, beliefs, as well as to perpetuate misinformation and to attack others.
Recently I ran across a post on Facebook which read: “Why does no one know the names of the 13 soldiers killed in Afghanistan the day Michael Jackson died?” The comment ended with: “Are there no GOOD reporters out there?” (Emphasis, by capitalization, of “good” was the poster’s.)
Now, I was totally sympathetic to this comment as far as soldiers being killed and we not hearing anything about it, but were instead overloaded with coverage of Michael Jackson’s death and all that followed it. I was totally sympathetic until I got to that last line, which served as nothing more than a stinger – an unnecessary dig at my fellow journalists. First of all, how many reporters decide what gets into print or on air? And secondly, didn’t the fact this person heard that 13 soldiers were killed that day indicate that a reporter, somewhere, was doing his or her job well? But I also wanted to know the names of the soldiers killed that day.
I checked Our Fallen Heroes website and quickly learned 13 soldiers had not been killed on June 25. However, two had. Army Spc. Joshua L. Hazlewood, 22, of Manvel, Texas; assigned to the 614th Automated Cargo Documentation Detachment; died in Arifjan, Kuwait, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident, and Army 1st Lt. Brian N. Bradshaw, 24, of Steilacoom, Wash.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska; died in Kheyl, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.
Apparently only reporters are held to standards of accuracy when dispensing information, because multiple requests for the source of the report of 13 soldiers killed on June 25 referred to in this post were met with silence. But it is not only our soldiers who are losing their lives in these wars. Are you aware that 70 journalists were killed on the job in 2008? Another 673 were arrested and 125 were imprisoned in 2008. Eighteen journalists have been killed so far this year. That’s a fraction of the number of our soldiers, but these journalists were not armed with anything other than a camera and/or notebook, and as a percentage of the number who are in war zones the numbers of journalists killed is extremely, and alarmingly, high.
I also found the information regarding the two soldiers killed on June 25 in The New York Times, The Washington Post and several other large metro newspapers, so in answer to the question “Are there any GOOD reporters out there?” the correct answer is: Yes. Yes there are!
Some are even risking, and giving, their lives to bring us accurate information.