Thursday, January 14, 2010

Journalism and body counts

I found out on Saturday that a very close friend of mine, Kristian Kramer, died last week, aged 37. He was genuinely an amazing guy who was trying to save other skiers following an avalanche in Switzerland, only to be swept away by a second avalanche.

His ex-girlfriend told me, and gave me links to some stories on the BBC about the avalanche. As I read the stories, I was struck by the gap between how devastated I felt and the cold relating of the facts. Then I realised how many stories I have written about people dying in their dozens and the emotional disconnect in those stories. I have done it so many time I am no longer upset by these stories and do not consider the human cost.

Now, after having the human cost brought home to me, I'm not sure if I want to be a journalist any longer, or at least not the kind of journalist that writes these impersonal stories.

1 comment:

Hazera Forth said...

Sorry, to hear about your friend. I can relate to what you are feeling, it's the same reason I decided not to become a press journalist when I had the chance or to pursue further professional qualifications towards it when I left university.

For what it's worth, I think a journalist is someone who does have to be able to put his/her human side in a box in order to be able to report on stories that often tell of very harsh human suffering - perhaps it's the only way to give the world unbiased truth. It is so easy for us to corrupt something by the mere action of feeling while we try to write a fact - but is this not the essence of journalism?

Having said that, as a thinking, feeling, human person, it is hard not to be moved when confronted with pain, which I think it is all the more commendable a job to be on that front line so that the rest of the world gets to learn something.