Friday, March 14, 2008

Bad news for reporters

On this Friday before the start of Sunshine Week, I thought it was interesting that two stories about reporters becoming the news surfaced this week.

This one is about a haughty sheriff who threatens small-town journalists with jail time for writing about his son's arrest.

And the one with video shows a women beating a TV personality.

I do like a good story, and strong-armed law enforcement makes for some great fiction. But it's scary when the powerful try to shut down the truth, something that is Constitutionally protected.

Fight scenes are great for the movies, but I hate to think one of my co-workers or I would be brutalized for doing our jobs.

Personally, I have only felt physically threatened twice. And they both happened to be at or near the office. Once a woman brought her scrappy teenage son to talk to me about a photo they didn't like. (I didn't take the picture.) The boy came ready to fight, apparently, and bowed up at me a few times. (The bowing was obvious because he flexed his biceps, made visible by the cut-off sleeves of his T-shirt. I'd say that was on purpose.) We didn't fight because I told them there was no reason to yell. They recently had lost a family member in a traffic accident and were understandably upset.

Another time a man grumbled to me that he had "no respect for paparazzi" as I asked him if his loved one, who was pregnant and involved in a car crash in downtown Shreveport, was OK. He angrily told me I had to leave, and I said I hoped she was OK. I still decided to stay close by on the publicly funded sidewalk. He stared but never charged. (I didn't clarify to him that a paparazzo usually photographs famous people.)

I'll be the first to say that I know reporters can make folks mad. Words are powerful, and people don't always like what we ask, say or publish -- even if they know it's true. But does that mean they have the right to physically threaten or act on such a threat?


bigmoneygrip said...

I love hearing about our wonderful people in authority that do this kind of shit.
Here is one I read about today

Stephanie Netherton said...

I've never felt threatened, although one time I think I was being stalked. Well, I guess that is threatening.

I'd just done a story on for the Living section. I had to apply to the site to talk to people who used it as a dating source. So when I unsubscribed this one guy said I had applied under false pretenses. He got my work e-mail, showed up at a couple places I hang out and ultimately freaked me out. Thank God I travel with a pack most of the time. I'd hate to run into that guy in a parking lot.