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Reporters deserve more respect

Published: Thursday, January 30, 2014

Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2014 00:01

It’s almost insulting to hear the way journalism and reporters are treated, and one incident has a Congressman in the national spotlight for his confrontation with a reporter on the job. 

When NY1 reporter Mike Scotto tried to interview New York Representative Michael Grimm after Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Grimm seemed unwilling to respond when he was questioned about campaign finances. When Scotto related his refusal to talk about the issue, he was pulled off camera and threatened for his reporting.

“If you ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this f---ing balcony,” Grimm said to Scotto while the microphone was still recording. “…You’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”

In Grimm’s defense, as he said in a later statement, he seemed be in a hurry and only willing to comment on the president’s speech. However, asking additional questions while you have a national representative face-to-face, is hardly as Grimm called it a “disrespectful and cheap shot.”

As a public figure, especially as an elected official, speaking to reporters and answering questions is part of the job. Though it is understandable for questions only to be asked between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., a politician is always on the clock. With a bureaucracy like that of the federal government, journalists are naturally inclined to make use of any opportune moment and do their job.

Journalists are annoying, and we know it, but journalism has always been a near thankless career, and at the end of the day it serves a greater good for public interest. For this reason, public figures, such as Grimm, should expand their views of “professionalism and respect” to include making extra time for reporters. Were it not for them, the only communication between a politician and constituents would be either the blatantly spun statements by campaign managers, or that rare, unflattering video from a camera phone that goes viral.

All information about every corrupt action and political scandal ever revealed to the public can almost always be credited to a busy-bodied journalist with his nose in someone else’s business. Any sane politician or competent public relations flack wouldn’t reveal any wrongdoing and most certainly wouldn’t be forthcoming about related details — this is why the journalist is paid to investigate, pry and dig for answers.

Public figures are paid to serve the community, and journalists are paid to hold them accountable for the people they serve.

Though some may look down on the questions and reporting, the general public ultimately relies on it. Journalists are already paid some of the lowest salaries in the country, but at the very least they should be given the time of day to ask a few questions without being threatened. 

Alex Rosenthal is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.

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