If you read the newspapers for information only, this post is not for you.
However, if you are interested in the people, and the process by which these stories reach print and web, then consider this.
Much of what you believe about the journalists working at the Trinidad Express is likely wrong.
There is no glitz or glamour to what we do. It’s mentally exhausting. The hours are long. There is no set “time to go home”. You battle every day for the mystical work/home balance, then concede there is no balance. Family life suffers. Spouses give up planning ahead.
Children soon note that what you do is abnormal. Everybody else’s parent can keep an appointment or attend a school event, except you.
Somewhere along the way, you realise that you see and speak with a co-worker more often than your own special ones.
So when you do get free time, you enjoy it like a crackhead on a high. The laugh is a little too long, a little too maniacal, and people watch and worry.
And ponder this, Express reader.
We, the people keeping you informed, are often the first on the scene of the crime. We see dead people. Not the washed, clothed and powdered bodies prepared by the morticians. We see the decay and dismemberment, children and babies gone too soon. We see this too often not to be affected. A crime reporting colleague of mine once told a psychiatrist hired by the company that each broken body, each anguished relative asking “why?” is like swallowing a poison that never leaves you. How you see the world is predicated on these images, and therefore changes the course of your life.
It may be a reason why so many reporters either abandon their religion or cling so desperately to a God.
We also see the politicians and the political act from behind the stage, before the carefully crafted speeches, and smiles.
There is where the truth lies, and it’s another reason why you are not likely to meet a journalist who is not jaded. But cynicism often acts as a filter to propaganda.
Consider this too, Blogger; next time you prepare to critique or condemn the report or the reporter.
We don’t do it for the salary. We are middle income earners. Our liming spots are the same as yours. We live in your communities. We know about what we write.
Nobody I know has been become rich through reporting the news.
Here at the South Bureau in San Fernando, where a part of the newspaper’s editorial team operates, there are people who every day, seek to be honest brokers of information.
Nobody I know, not Carolyn Kissoon, Camille Bethel, Susan Mohammed, Sue-Ann Wayow, Nikita Braxton, is interested in having anything but a professional relationship with police or politician. Our photographers Trevor Watson, Dexter Philip, Innis Francis Dave Persad (and now deceased Trevor Hackett), have been assaulted, intimidated, vilified, but have never turned away.
All we want is the image and information, to analyse and consider, before passing it on to you, in bite sized pieces. We seek out the positive stories, a hard business in troubled Trinidad and Tobago.
The awards for excellence in journalism, there are many.
But the real rewards are deeply personal.
It’s when you can offer a helping hand to someone who has run out of options and has turned to you, a stranger, to plead.
Nobody I know will accept a ticket to get into an event for free, or pursue a particular story to the undeserved benefit of any person or party.
People here burn sources as often as they make new ones. It has often left us having to work harder that the competition to get you the news. But there will be no compromise.
An exclusive from a politician, we will gladly do without if it means that somewhere down the road, we must compromise our integrity.
This is how we learned it here at the bureau, where some of the best have worked—Davan Maharaj, (Los Angeles Times Editor), Phoolo Danny-Maharaj—or led the bureau—Jerome Tang Lee, Harry Sharma, and Harry Partap.
We are the real deal; the people are our constituents, and we serve you.
The South Bureau, located at Pointe-a-Pierre Road, San Fernando, can be contacted at 652-2900 ext 2728 or on Facebook at TrinidadSouthbureauNews.