Punching Bags

Journalism isn’t for suckers. Or crybabies.

The gritty side of owning a press pass is being revealed via the Mike Duffy circus, as the trial continues in tandem with a federal election campaign.

With home page/front page spreads, and news outlets naming reporters who were publicly targeted by supporters of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, it’s important to point out journalism is far from glamorous.

Abuse is a daily reality. Like cops or lawyers, there are stereotypes, labels and mistrust; public perception.

You toughen up, fast, when you realize it’s normal to be called a vulture, or your tires are slashed, or someone threatens to kill you, or a person looks you in the eye and says you’re a waste of human skin. (Note: Journalism is incredibly dangerous in many parts of the world, and I applaud, support, and admire these scribes. This post refers to an urban Canadian experience).

I’m curious to know how many of those reporters on the campaign bus got together for drinks yesterday.

The incident brings to mind a 2011 Murder Monday, as I dubbed it, ending at a west Ottawa bar. Worn out from the day’s events (door knocking, being cursed out and repeatedly accused of blackmail, not having time to eat, Ottawa’s winter, wet socks,) I badly wanted to chug a gin and tonic* yet didn’t want to go home and drink alone. So I entertained two guys at the bar (one of whom I’m now connected with on social media).

He waxed lyrical about his divorce, and his son’s mad hockey skills. I countered with victims of crime and how I wasn’t trying to paint a bad picture of the person killed.

Womp, womp.

Not quite as sexy a job as you think. Hate mail, racist comments, sexist comments, sexual innuendo, social media trolls are part of the daily grind. It’s rare to see it aired on the nightly news.

Another time, I was following a tip about a charity being defrauded. Given the nature of our media outlet, in that there was really no time for investigative work, I convinced an editor to let me go look. The payoff? Being threatened by a biker, and I do mean the Hells Angels type, not a beret-baguette-basket cyclist.

Oh, how I miss the newsroom.


*Tonic water, I’ve since learned, has too much sugar (around 20 grams per can). I now sip vodka/soda. 

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