Column by Amy Rogan
Assistant Professor and Adviser to the Pulse
As I watched the coverage of the young reporter fatally shot in Florida, I can’t help but picture our recent alumni and their young faces as they headed out into the journalism world.
Young journalists work hard for little pay at times, with little acknowledgement of that hard work. They do it for a variety of reasons: they want to serve the community as the fourth estate, they want to tell real stories in real communities, they love learning new things every day and they love sharing that knowledge. They enjoy meeting new people, discovering different views, and contributing to a knowledgeable electorate in support of democracy—there are so many reasons and motivations for journalists to engage with and write about their communities.
But it’s not without risk. As a young newsroom manager during my days working in television, I remember the call from a stunned crew in the field during the April 2001 riots in Cincinnati. Someone threw a brick through the windshield of the news vehicle they were driving. A clearly marked news vehicle couldn’t protect them. I felt helpless standing in Columbus. I didn’t quite know what to say.
As one of our most recent grads spent her first year covering the George Floyd demonstrations and presidential campaign rallies where attendees were openly hostile towards the media, I worried. She often reported as a “one-man-band,” doing the interviewing and camera work by herself, and I worried. I contacted her to ask if the company she was working for sent security with her to these events. I worried.
I worried because I know that journalists have become the enemy of the people for reasons we journalists don’t quite understand.
Working outside the walls of safety is not new for journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists tracks journalists killed in the line of duty. Now a 24-year-old reporter in Florida has joined the list of journalists killed in 2023. Just 24 years old. The same age or close to the age of our recent grads.
The University of Findlay has many majors and many students working hard to be successful in their chosen industry. But I’m just talking about mine right now. My students, my journalists.
Most of them had to complete several internships, not just to fill the internship requirement but to learn the business. One recent grad spent her last few months here cold calling news directors across the country, just to get to know people in the business, just to help herself get a foot in the door. She established mentorships and connections that way. Just that act alone is brave. But to know that these young people just trying to serve their communities face danger in the line of duty is, well, worrying.
I think of them often. I pray for them often. I pray people respect the work they do and I pray they continue to grow and flourish and contribute to our society.
And I worry.
Prof. Rogan is an award winning journalist who worked in both the TV and print news industries for a total of 21 years.