We get a lot of negative feedback in the news business.
We’re an easy target for people’s frustration, anger and even sometimes their grief that comes out as anger. Metaphorically shooting the messenger is simpler than addressing the ideas that challenge yours, the thoughts that people express and we quote that don’t match up with your ideals. People often conflate the thoughts expressed by sources in a story with the views of the newspaper and the people that work here. More and more people seem to think that those who don’t believe the same things they do shouldn’t have the right to speak at all, some even think they shouldn’t have the right to exist. Intolerance and incivility are a growing, parallel problems.
The current political climate, with the downright dangerous rhetoric coming out of the U.S. president and his administration, hasn’t helped.
But sometimes there’s a reminder of why we got into the journalism business. Why we continue to do what we do when it often seems so little appreciated.
Such a thing happened this week. Shortly after we published our story about the imminent, permanent closure of a popular walking trail in Cowichan Bay due to the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s need to grapple with drainage problems, we heard that the closure was off. The ministry, the CVRD and the local MLA are going to work to find another solution that will keep the trail open.
It was a reminder that sometimes we as the media can help bring about positive change.
There have been other occasions as well, times when we’ve had people call us about problems they’ve been having. One I remember clearly was the case of someone who was taking care of a mentally disabled adult. We make a phone call or two, and the original source calls us back to tell us the other side has reached out an a solution is in the works.
A little frustrating from a journalistic perspective, as it often means the story evaporates before our eyes, but that’s a small price to pay to really help somebody.
I personally think that over time we help to bring about many positive changes, but it’s seldom that we get such instant gratification.
Nobody gets into journalism for constant pats on the back, or if they do they quickly run far, far away. But it is nice to know from time to time that we’re not just Sisyphus, constantly working at a hopeless task.