Keyboard Commando – When reporters are doing their jobs, please be respectful

by Mac Olsen

People often try to shine in the limelight of a “big story” or event, including those who consider themselves “news hounds.”

But for those of us who are actual reporters trying to do our jobs, it’s irritating and sometimes embarassing to have those who aren’t in media, to do something very stupid.

Here, I’m talking about an incident that happened to CTV News reporter Sarah MacDonald in Vancouver on July 21.

While reporting live on a ‘Pokemon’ gathering on Robson Street in downtown Vancouver, Nicolas Pogossian used his smartphone camera to get a ‘selfie’ with him and the reporter and he also used profanity in her presence.

Later, CTV News had a report about the incident, which shows her punching at Pogossian and her irritation as he runs away is evident.

Last week, Pogossian went to the CTV News outlet to apologize, and he seemed sincere in his statement. However, at press time, the Vancouver Police Department was investigating the incident.

It’s all very well when people get caught up in the excitement of an event or the uproar of an incident. That’s human nature and, depending on the situation, you can’t help but appreciate what people are feeling and doing.

However, there is no excuse for causing an incident with a reporter, as happened to Sarah MacDonald. She was trying to do her job, live on television, and Pogossian’s conduct left her frustrated and annoyed.

I would even say she was embarrassed. That’s certainly how I would have felt.

Not that I haven’t had encountered such situations myself. There is one incident I can remember when I worked at the Thompson Citizen in Thompson, Manitoba.

In the summer of 2002, I was doing a story about a golf tournament and I wanted to interview the organizer. He embarassed me by presenting his dentures to me. Yes, it was joke, but I wasn’t impressed.

In 2014, while covering the centennial in McLennan, I was getting photos and video clips of the parade.

Then one person decided to walk in front of my camera and offered a “V” with two of his fingers right at the camera. I was very irritated with that person, as there were some potentially good photos to use.

I don’t have the attitude that ‘the people have a right to know’ and I won’t impose myself in situations such as a vehicle collision, when people are dealing with grief and injuries.

Nor do I go for ‘jugular journalism’. I’m not intent on digging up controversy and scandal about a person, business or organization.

Some media – or as I call them, the ‘trash tabloids’ like the ‘National Inquirer’ and the ‘Star’ in the U.S. – do enough of that themselves.

Yet, the media is not above reproach and when we make mistakes, we are supposed to take responsibility and apologize accordingly.

But when we are doing our jobs for the public, please leave us alone to do it. We don’t appreciate the irritation and annoyance, as Pogossian demonstrated.

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