Over the past nine months, we have all heard the words “Be kind, be calm, and be safe”. If these words are not permanently etched across a person’s frontal lobe or indicative by actions this late in the season—then stop. Stop reading now, turn the page, and walk away because there is no hope for you.
This week the first third of those words, that resonate as a COVID-19 slogan, rang true for me as a journalist. “Be Kind”. I had a little kindness bestowed upon me. A person went out of their way to thank me for doing what I do. Writing. Bringing readers the news. Reporting, or whatever you want to call it. I love this – I don’t need thanks for doing what I love but am overwhelmed by the kind gesture.
But, then I thought it’s not all about me. I have co-workers, teammates, and colleagues I share with and learn from who have helped me over the past year transition into an old-new career.
We’ve all seen the many and well-deserved thanks like the hearts and the rainbows in living room windows, heard the ships horns blasting at 7 p.m. each night, watched the vehicle parades, seen treat baskets delivered to the front line workers like nurses, doctors, cleaners, fire department, police, ambulance, grocery store clerks and pharmacy staff. But have you stopped to think about how you have heard about the efforts of all of these professions and more?
Standing right beside these front line workers are journalists, reporters, news anchors, radio announcers, editors, publishers, photographers, distribution personnel – all bringing you the news and keeping you up-to-date on the COVID happenings and regular news that occurs on a daily basis. We stand in the background of quiet life and or in the midst of pandemonium observing and reporting, waiting for the right moment to ask a question or snap the photo. We do this all day, every day. We’ve done it since before COVID-19.
As with many workplaces during COVID-19 which have scaled back on employees and then experienced increased workloads with the additional precautions that need to be carried out by fewer people amongst higher stress. The media is not immune. Many newsrooms are working with skeleton staff lugging those loads of story hay, reticently waiting for that final piece of straw on the camels back.
News fatigue has smacked us all in the face knocking us into almost unconsciousness (seriously we want to write about COVID just as little as you probably want to ready about it.) But, the media as a whole is relentless and will get that story to you regardless of the rain, the face masks, the social distancing, and the additional zoom lenses needed to get that shot just right. Just because there are not as many events, public gatherings, sports games, or public meetings to report about, doesn’t mean the efforts are diminished in searching out the news, researching the story, interviewing subjects, and compiling the information into a piece that is not just readable but that is understandable and engaging.
Conversations with my colleagues have generated the same thought processes as well as some thoughts I had not had myself – those can wait for another occasion to be shared.
While we as a profession strive for perfection in our publications, the profession is driven forward by the individuals who are human beings and deserve a little kindness. So if you happen to come across a misplaced comma, a photograph that shows your double chin, or a name with transposed letters, don’t call us out in frenzied social media challenge or bring in the newspaper with red circles all over it – because that just isn’t kind in the days of a pandemic.
Be like the pharmacist who gave me my flu shot yesterday and say you appreciate reading the news, be like the passerby on the street last week who stopped me just to say hello and tell me that reading the news makes his day, be like the reader who took time out of their day to write a thank-you letter recognizing the efforts a two-hour interview takes to put into a 1500 word, 60 inch column space. Be like Bonnie Henry – be kind and stay calm.
To my colleagues who are as equally dedicated, who each work throughout the night, who finally hit the “save” button at 3 a.m. to meet deadlines or to put the papers to bed – even though we don’t have rainbows in windows or fog horns blaring across the water in recognition of our efforts – I see you. I recognize you and I am grateful for your efforts because without your individual contribution there would be no forward new momentum.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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