Journalists are increasingly in the crosshairs

Two & Out
By James Peters
May 26, 2017 - 2:00pm

KAMLOOPS — We have a saying in the journalistic profession: "If you're not making someone mad, you're not doing your job."

This maxim is, in fact, why many choose to leave this line of work.

It's a paradox to be a people-pleaser when your life's work is agitating the status quo, and a position in public relations might be more placid.

Tough to blame them.

Upsetting people as a journalist in North America has typically been a safe and accepted practice.

The occasional lawsuit is the only thing one really needs to fear.

The President of the United States can call us names, but that only makes us stronger.

It's not like Turkey, where more than 150 journalists have been jailed since last summer's failed coup.

The government will only admit that it has jailed 30 journalists.

Only 30.

But just this week, a few North American journalists have been in the crosshairs, and it's reason for concern for all of us.

On Wednesday, Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs was asking questions of Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte.

The candidate didn't like the questions, and is alleged to have physically attacked Jacobs.

Gianforte has been charged with assault, and the audio recording and witness accounts are damning.

That's not nearly as frightening as what happened to legendary Vancouver Sun crime reporter Kim Bolan.

Bolan was sitting in court, reporting on a gang-related murder trial when she found herself the subject of testimony.

In fact, a former United Nations member testified the gang had discussed killing Bolan.

They didn't like the attention her coverage was garnering, and obtained her address from some sort of property search.

In the end, the former UN member testified the gang decided against killing Bolan.

On one hand, Bolan could wear the death threat as a badge of honour, proving that maxim once again.

On the other hand, the whole prospect is terrifying.

Journalism is under attack from so many other forces in 2017, it would certainly be nice if that could remain a metaphor rather than a frightening literal reality.