Journalism and Problems of Professional Activity
Journalism, similarly to other professions, involves a number of difficulties. They are referred to as problems of professional activity. The types of difficulties that journalists face during the working process were defined by various researches. They agreed on the following:
- the high degree of social responsibility;
- the high degree of psychological stress;
- danger to life and limb; the high degree of risk;
- frequent trips; the high pace of work;
- irregular working hours; difficulties in working with sources of information;
- creative difficulties in writing texts; complications of dealing with people in the process of gathering information;
- the complexity of communication in the creative team of editors;
- difficulties in defending the independence, self-expression in publications other than to the position of the owners or founders of the information media;
- the complexity of accounting and expression interests of the audience, especially the perception of the media are the most frequent complication the media worker deals with.
Knowing all these difficulties, it can be stated that only an individual having a moral power can achieve a real success in this field.
In addition, the fact that a journalist has to work at different times of the day – in the afternoon, evening, and even at night should be taken into consideration. The journalists are subjected to occupational diseases such as heart failure, nervous stomach, insomnia, and other neuropsychological problems. Thus, it is obvious that a journalist should have moral and physical strength to achieve success. Journalist’s work requires total efficiency, which includes information capability, time, high mobility and activity, uneven rhythm of work, substantial intellectual and emotional energy, the ability to deal with conflicts professionally, the capability to cope with tension due to the unpredictability and novelty of the situation, inventing original solutions.
This is typical for all reporters, no matter where they work. This is a peculiarity of the profession, i. e. the risk which is readily taken by those who take up journalism. Journalists all over the world face these problems every day. It is much more dangerous for them to overcome such difficulties as attacks, threat, beatings, pressure from the government, use of official position, restriction on access to information, and prosecutions. The major problem for a media worker is to collect the data that nobody wants to know. A good journalist is the person who tells the truth and supports an argument with solid proof. It is obvious that a hard work should be done to find this proof.
The main obstacle to a journalistic investigation is the information security and political situation in the particular country. Every reporter wants to highlight a separate unique problem, i.e. the fact that has never been investigated earlier in order to attract the reader’s attention. Thus, the most ‘tasty’ data is collected by digging into tons of documents which sometimes are forbidden to ordinary people.
Politicians and sociopolitical state of a country play significant roles in the information freedom. Every government has its hidden pitfalls in their political course that should not be highlighted to stay in charge. The work of a journalist involves digging for the contestable facts and showing the real face of the current political regime of one or another official in order to reveal the truth. That is the real danger of being a journalist since the power of an official is much wider than that of a newspaper reporter. As a rule, being a good journalist requires being a strong person.
The confirmation for this unwritten law is Belva Davis. She is the first African American female TV journalist on the U.S. West Coast. This little woman changed the focus and face of TV news.
The struggle of Belva Davis to become a broadcast journalist when stories of special importance to women and African Americans infrequently made mainstream newscasts is an example for every young writer dreaming about worldwide popularity as a reporter. Bill Crosby was one of her early viewers. He wrote that “Belva Davis was someone who sustained us, who made us proud….She was the first woman of color that many viewers came to know and trust, and she met that challenge with integrity and dignity and grace” (Davis, 2021).
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The life of Mrs. Davis depicts an amazing story of a strong girl. She made her career by herself. Born to a 15-year-old Louisiana laundress during the Great Depression, she relied on nobody and nothing. Mrs. Davis graduated from Berkeley High School in 1951. After a graduation, she entered San Francisco State College. She was unable to pay for the studies; thus, she found her first writing job at the Naval Supply Center in Oakland and a freelance writer job at Jet, which actually was her first paid job. She soon found work at several local contemporary black newspapers.
Belva Davis was a workaholic since she had several broadcasting programs at three channels since 1956. She was the first African American woman who was employed by San Francisco’s KSAN. She also worked at Oakland’s KWBR and KDIA in the 1960s. She performed any kind of work starting from reading a newspaper clips to being a program host, journalist, and political reporter. Belva Davis started working for KRON-TV (Channel 4) in March 1981. She was a local news specialist and reported about everything starting from political issues and fiscal concerns to city planning visions and lost dogs. She also covered local, national, and international events, communicated with US Presidents and several other world leaders, and created “This Week in Northern California” – the must-watch program covering public affairs. It was broadcasted at KQED where she was a host of the program. Belva covered many of the most important events during twenty years and had a conversation with almost every major official in the state of California.
Mrs. Davis has a plenty of awards for her contribution to journalism. Among her most important awards, one can distinguish six regional Emmy Awards and Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1996. This year brought her many awards. In 1996, she received a number of honorary doctorates. The abovementioned prizes were the major ones, but in addition, she won several dozens of other awards. She is one of the most respected labor activists and community defenders. In reward for her unique and pioneering achievements, she was included into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Famein in 2007. She also has her own profile in the Newseum which is the first and only one interactive news museum.
Mrs. Davis’ career lasted for more than fifty years. During these years, this woman covered the world’s most outstanding events such as student protests in Berkeley, the birth of the Black Panthers, mass suicides due to the Peoples Temple cult at Jonestown, the San Francisco Mayor and Supervisor murders for political reasons, and the development of the AIDS epidemic. Belva Davis is widely known as an activist for human rights and freedoms. It was especially hard for her as a black female in so-called ‘racism years’.
When she started to write, African American community was considered to be derelicts of the society, who do not deserve the right to communicate, study, get a medical service, work, vote, shop, and so on with white individuals. She worked at the time when the officials ridiculously claimed that African Americans have such thick lips that they are not able to pronounce the long words (Davis, 2021). Furthermore, Mrs. Davis faced the direct racism when she was trying to get a job since one of San Francisco editors told her straight in the eye that he was not hiring any “Negresses” (Davis, 2021).
Under such unpleasant conditions, a black female describing the bitter truth of reality was considered as freaky and unhealthy. African Americans were supposed to serve white community, not to tell it what to do, think, and understand. In 1962, the United States faced the wave of unrest related to attempts of black citizens to register James Meredith at the University of Mississippi as a student. This case caused the famous Mississippi conflict. It did not receive wide publicity in the press as it was considered that the subject is delicate, and meticulous attention to it can lead to further undesirable consequences.
In addition to that, there were some civil commotions due to countries foreign policy course. Americans were strongly against the war with Vietnam. Numerous protests against this war were held on the streets of American cities. During the demonstrations and street fights, the number of deaths sometimes exceeded the losses on the front in Vietnam. As it can be seen, these obstacles are not suitable for black female to start a journalism career.
But it is not for Mrs. Davis to be afraid of difficulties. She was a young single mother trying to raise two children. Perhaps, the necessity to provide for her children a bright future gave her strength not to give up. Obviously, she reached her aim since Belva became one of the most respected and trusted local journalists in the country. She achieved a tremendous success in the media field. One of the most important matters she worked on was ethical problems. Actually, she was familiar with ethical issues like no one else since she is an African American. Thus, knowing Davis’s life history and beliefs, her opinion on the announcement of a sex crime child’s names in the media will be assessed.
The issue of registering known sex offenders is extremely controversial. It has two different viewpoints.
- The first is that announcing the name of sex crimes victims is extremely unethical.
- The second is that it is essential to warn young people of what could happen to them because of reckless behavior, unlimited alcohol and drugs consumption, and walking alone at night.
Also, the necessity of such victims’ names announcement is considered to be essential from the viewpoint of case studies in order to create the protection means against sex felons.
Belva Davis would definitely find this issue controversial as well. Among the arguments against the announcement, she would name the willingness of every individual to protect his own privacy. It is particularly topical for parents of sex crime victims who are the first to desire their child safety. Obviously, parents would be against digging into the dirtiest details of the crime by a reporter and then discussing them in public. Some parents consider crimes related to sex as something shameful and due to that try to hide the accident as they can. Mrs. Davis as a campaigner for human right would definitely appreciate the parents’ struggle for privacy since it is the human right.
On the other side, the role of case studying cannot be neglected. The society has a right to know about sex offenders in order to recognize them in time to prevent the possible harm they could do. It is also a human right to information access and from the viewpoint of law it is acceptable. Since mothers, fathers, and relatives are worried about their children wellbeing, the announcement of sex offenders’ names really may prevent other felons from making a mistake and get into that list. Also, the detalization of these cases can help to ascertain the reason why people commit sex related crimes.
However, we should not forget about the ethics fact. No one has a right to interfere in an individual’s personal business. Due to beliefs of Davis, there would be two solutions for this problem.
- The first problem solution is that the data of names of offenders and victims should be announced only for police workers. They need this information in order to assess the reasons, details, and consequences of these crimes. This would help them to create useful methods for prevention of further crimes. In addition, police and other human right activist organizations are able to give a required help to such children. As society often condemns the victims of sex crimes, it could become a great challenge for a child to face the harm of the crime together with social opinion. Officials can provide special training programs in order to help children overcome the problem. Furthermore, the problem of social shame eliminates itself since the information is not for public access.
- The second problem solution may be giving a right to the parents and their children who are sex victims to choose whether the details of the crime would be announced to publicity. As this concerns the family, they choose whether to announce the data or not. This solution creates some kind of protection for victims and their families from the public reprimand. In addition, simple posting a name on an online service for sex crimes victims is not a solution to the problem. The individual can be false charged, he/she could be frame up, etc. After such a charge, the individual definitely becomes a derelict of the society since child sex crimes are considered as the most hard and terrible ones. Again, people have the right to know who their neighbors are; they also have the right to dispose the personal data.
Another solution is to create some definite rules to assess the child sex crime cases. This requires creation of several standard questions and facts to be defined. This could be the time, place, name, and hardness of the crime. This would help the police to find out the main details of the crime and prevent the public from finding out those details. It will also protect victims’ and their parents’ right for privacy.
To conclude it should be pointed out that even the most outstanding world’s journalist cannot find a precise solution for the ethical issue. The above given solutions for the assessed problem are only probable methods dealing with the described issue. Furthermore, the methods were offered on the basis of Belva Davis experiences in the ethical issues solutions and beliefs about human rights. It is possible that when asking Mrs. Davis directly, she will give totally opposite suggestions.
Gloria Steinem, a feminist leader, noted that Belva Davis is a vivid example of a brave black woman who witnessed the history of the USA as a journalist with a world-class heart and head. And it is totally the truth. As it is known, Mrs. Davis did not experience the trouble of mother whose child became a victim of a sex crime. It means that nobody, including the most famous women and local journalists, can assess this ethical issue from the right viewpoint and find the only right solution. It hardly could be done with parents themselves since they have different opinions on the personal information announcement as well.
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