A sense of journalists’ humanity

“We will see more suffering, not all of it far away, and we will see more journalists reveal how it affects them.”

As I write this, thousands of people are being evacuated from their homes in Aleppo, while many more thousands remain trapped in the city, fearing imminent death, in a country in which hundreds of thousands have been killed over the last five years. I am crying. I am thinking of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, photographed a few months ago sitting bloodied and silent in the back of an ambulance, not much older than my precious, so very lucky daughter. And then I am recalling a clip I saw in my Facebook news feed this summer, of CNN’s Kate Bolduan, her voice cracking as she reported on little Omran.

umbreen-bhattiIn 2017, I think we will see more of this. We will see more suffering, not all of it far away, and we will see more journalists reveal how it affects them. Sometimes the revelations will be inadvertent, but not always. Sometimes they will be intentional, like WNCN anchor Sean Maroney’s, after three young Muslim Americans were shot by a neighbor in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 2015. (If you haven’t seen his raw, emotional statement, go watch it now. It is context. It is connection. It is community. And as an audience member, I craved it more deeply than I realized.)

In 2016, we talked a lot about what audiences need in order to trust us. In 2017, maybe we’ll start to see that for many people, especially those who rarely see their full humanity represented in the news, a sense of a journalist’s humanity can help.

Umbreen Bhatti is product manager at the KQED Lab.

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