Lynn Ashby

Let’s check the headlines: “Murderer Says Detective Ruined His Reputation.” -- Henderson, Nevada Times News. “Man Kills Himself and Runs Away.” – Daily Mail. “Forecasters call for weather on Monday” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Amphibious pitcher makes debut” – Associated Press. Also from the AP: “Miracle cure kills fifth patient.” Finally, “Man accused of killing lawyer gets new attorney.” – Albuquerque Sun

Lawyers call their mistakes “inmates.” Doctors refer to theirs as “corpses” while diplomats refer to their botch-ups as “wars.” Journalists show their mistakes before everyone, and make corrections a part of their daily (or weekly) humiliations. But it’s getting a bit dicey for the ink-stained wretches, which brings us to a Mexican journalist, López Arévalo. According to the New Yorker, on the evening of last October 28th, as Arevalo was unloading a case of avocados from the trunk of his car, an assassin walked up behind him, shot him at the base of his skull, and sped off on a motorbike. On that same day, another Mexican journalist, Alfredo Cardoso, was pulled from his home in Acapulco and shot five times. Cardoso’s death raised the number of Mexican media workers killed in 2021 to at least nine and affirmed the country’s standing as one of the most dangerous places in the world to practice journalism. In the past 30 years, fewer than 10 percent of Mexico’s murder cases involving members of the press have resulted in prosecutions.

“Barbershop singers bring joy to school for deaf.”

A total of 45 journalists were killed worldwide in 2021, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has just reported. That is one less than the 46 killings of journalists given earlier by another media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, which noted that figure is its lowest-ever since starting its tallies in 1995. The toll included nine in Afghanistan, the highest number in a single country. Elsewhere, nine died in Mexico, four in India and three in Pakistan. UNESCO said that 55 journalists and media workers were killed around the world in 2021. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported a mere 24 journalists were killed last year, while another 18 died under mysterious circumstances as of last December 1. Kind of gives new meaning to journalists’ “deadline.” Since 1991, the IFJ recorded 2,721 murders of journalists around the world. This includes targeted killings, crossfire fatalities as well as bomb attacks. Then there was Jamal Kasogi, a Washington Post columnist, who reported on the shady side of the Saudi royal family. On Oct. 2, 2018, Kasogi was tortured, murdered and cut up with a chainsaw at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by agents of the Saudi government.

“Parents keep kids home to protest school closure”

Do any other professions keep track of the number of their colleagues who were murdered while pursuing their line of work? Is there a Committee to Protect Architects? The UN is considering adopting a new United Nations Convention for the Protection of Journalists. What about pediatricians, paralegals and plumbers? Incidentally, women journalists continue to be particularly at risk as they are subjected to “a shocking prevalence of harassment online,” UNESCO reported, citing data that showed that nearly three-quarters of female media professionals surveyed had experienced violence linked to their work. There are also the jailings. A new CPJ report says the number of journalists who were behind bars worldwide reached a high last year: 293 reporters were imprisoned, an increase from 2020 when the number was 274.

“Federal Agents Raid Gun Shop, Find Weapons”

We tend to think that these killings and jailings only take place in far-off, violent countries. In recent times, a bomb was sent to CNN (among others). Four reporters for The Capital in Annapolis, Maryland, were killed in a mass murder at the newspaper's office. During the Capitol raid on January 6 of last year, Trump fans grabbed TV cameras and other journalists’ paraphernalia, probably including flasks of vodka – it was cold – and trashed them. Back in 2018 I wrote: Wouldn’t an angry letter to the editor do? No, not these days. I’ve been a journalist since 1962 and I have never seen such hated aimed – sometimes literally – at the Fourth Estate. Well, we deserve it. We continue to lie, distort and attempt to end America as we know it today. Nothing’s changed since then.

“Diana was still alive hours before she died”

Continuing my diatribe: The generator of this hatred can easily be traced to one person: President Donald Trump. He has seized this animosity, exploited it and pandered to people’s frustration about the economy, jobs, and his demagoguery is working wonderfully well -- the public’s opinion of the media is the lowest it’s ever been. Any facts contrary to his stated views are dismissed as “fake news.” Reporters and their news organizations are “pathetic,” “very dishonest,” “failing” and "a pile of garbage.” Journalists are slandered as “enemies of the people.” In those four years, it’s gotten worse.

OK, why all the whining? Journalists taking the job knew that the pay would be lousy. But not many professions are receiving more and more insults and threats for simply doing their job, nor does the application form have a box: “Next of kin.” Right before D-Day in Europe, correspondents were told to write their obituaries. Some were printed. In Washington, D.C. there was the Newseum, an exhibition given over to journalism. It just closed and is looking for a new location. It was a fun place filled with the Fourth Estates' mistakes, stupid stories and erroneous headlines: "Dewey Defeats Truman." Then there are the eyeglasses, pencil and notebook of Mark Kellogg. He was an AP reporter assigned to cover Custer at Little Bighorn, and, no, he wasn’t biased towards the Indians. There was a wall at the Newseum filled with the names of American journalists who were killed in the line of duty. The wall has room for more names. Stand by.

“Study Shows Frequent Sex Enhances Pregnancy Chances” – The Winchester Star

Ashby is hiding at ashby2@comcast.net

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