I have recently learned that I am practicing a most dangerous profession, journalism, which took the lives of 81 reporters all over the world in 2017.
I learned about this danger to my life and health in an Associated Press News article printed in a small newspaper, The Monitor, which circulates in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
According to The Monitor’s annual “Kill Report,” 81 reporters were killed doing their job last year and violence and harassment against media staff skyrocketed in 2017. And more than 250 reporters were in prison for doing their job in 2017.
Oh, boy. It’s hard to believe I’m in such a dangerous profession. From what I read, it seems to be as dangerous or even more dangerous than parachute jumping, deep sea diving and even tight-rope walking.
Believe me, there are some people who would like to kill or injure journalists. They want us to “shut up” and not practice our chosen profession. I’ve met a few of them here in the United States in my time, but I am happy to say that most of the deaths of and assaults of journalists did not occur here but in such countries as Turkey, Iran, Syria and Afghanistan. But I also should point out that 12 journalists were murdered last year for doing their job in neighboring Mexico.
I have been practicing journalism for more than 50 years. I’ve been asked if anyone ever threatened me about what I wrote. The answer is no, but I wouldn’t say that I never received any threats or harassment when I wrote hard-hitting news articles. The one I remember most came from a guy named Marvin Kratter who was building apartments, houses and offices near the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan. He said: “Something could happen to you if you don’t stop criticizing my project.”
I complained constantly about the now-late Marvin Kratter’s development plans to my family. My then 4-year-old daughter, Jeri Ann, asked me: “Does Marvin Kratter have a mommy?” I never found out the answer to her question, but you do wonder about these important people who attack anyone who criticizes them.
Even now you hear a lot of criticism of journalists for doing their job. One of the biggest attacks has come from President Donald J. Trump, who called journalists like me “the enemies of the people.” I reply, “No, Mr. Trump, you are an enemy of the people when you try to bully us into submission.”