Should Journalists Receive Awards for Covering Hard News? My Thought Is No; I’ll Tell You Why
The Way Journalists Are Rewarded Needs to Change
When I worked in news, one of the strangest things to me was that people sought out awards for their coverage on topics that were deeply sorrowful, traumatic, and disturbing. I think journalists should receive something else for their hard work, especially when it comes to covering challenging topics. Let me explain.
I don’t think it’s particularly appropriate that after a mass shooting at the end of that rope is someone getting dressed up to the nines, put in a room with fellow people who covered the same topic or similar topics, and given a lavish banquet dinner and the chance to get up before the audience to give an acceptance speech. Not all awards for journalists work this way but many do. I feel like we’re losing the plot on the real issue that took place that caused the news coverage in the first place, and instead, we’re patting the backs of people who have more comfortable and established lives.
I find this current way of honoring journalists tacky, narcissistic, and neurotic. At these ceremonies, people are given the chance to network with fellow journalists and talk about their work from collapsed buildings, missing children, sunken ships, and airplanes on fire. It makes the journalists come off as elitist, imperial even. There is so much opus put on their work to cover and observe these terrible topics that the actual reality of the events they covered gets lost.
Don’t get me wrong, it is challenging to cover hard crime and disasters, but these stories are about real people and many of them are left in a void to cope with the grief and seriousness of their misfortunes… some of those people will be dealing with the harrowing situation they endured for the rest of their lives.
It’s awkward when you go to a newsroom and find in a corner a golden award that has etched on it: “First place for superior coverage of the sailboat drowning that took 12 lives.” It’s even more awkward when people take pictures of that trophy and spread it on social media. You’re not absolved of doing something tacky just because it was an honor to receive a golden trophy. The way you present that golden…