Why journalists won't and shouldn't be silenced

OPINION: I'm not one of those highly ambitious people who knew what occupation they were going to land in from age 4.

In fact, come age 17, I still wasn't sure.

I dreaded every family gathering as a teenager because you knew the inevitable question was coming - what are you going to do when you leave school?

Originally, my heart was set on becoming a clearance diver for the Australian Navy.

Quite a feat for a female, as I was yet to learn.

So when I finally told my parents I was going to university to study journalism, I'm sure they were comforted by the thought of a safe occupation for their only daughter.

But with the recent incarceration of Peter Greste and the terror attack on the Charlie Hebdo office, it has affirmed journalism as one of the more dangerous jobs in the world.

Maybe not in Gladstone, luckily.

But, no doubt, the job of telling the truth is one that attracts hate, criticism, fear-mongering and violence.

Journalists and news outlets regulate politics, businesses, organisations and individuals, and in turn the public regulates the media.

Look no further than Gladstone Open Discussion for proof.

While much of the commentary on our work can be inane, we as journalists will defend anyone's right to voice their opinion.

We welcome criticism, even thrive on it.

What is difficult to understand, however, is how anyone, from any background, can realistically envision a future without the media or want to silence the media; regardless of how antagonising we may be.

How scary would it be if journalists could not speak against a religion, or a politician, or a famous Australian mining magnate?

Funnily enough, we (I collectively refer to journalists as 'us' despite many more deserving than I) are the first to be targeted.

Look at the new terror laws in Australia silencing various forms of reporting if deemed to compromise government policy.

Journalism is not an annoyance. Our craft is not discardable.

We are inherently required by all democratic societies and we will not be intimidated.

Least of all, we will never be silenced.

Je suis Charlie.



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