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Insult to injury (PJI editorial 7 April 2005)

NEWS about a newsman’s death plied out in cyberspace or on printed page hardly touches a ripple of interest or whit of outrage among surfers and readers.

News persons aren’t really interesting but after receiving a flurry of death threats for his tirades on drug lords, a hard-hitting columnist of an afternoon tabloid saw it fit to pack three pieces—a .45 in a shoulder strap, a similar piece at his waist, and a third tucked in a foot holster.

He wasn’t able to yank out any of such pieces during a taxi heist that cost him his life. He didn’t get any chance to pay heed to a sage counsel about political power spewed off gun barrels and pork barrels.

Or he had a bad case of adrenaline dump. Do-or-die moments can trigger a flood-rush of adrenaline in one’s systems. That can nudge the threatened individual to lash out like a cornered cobra in nanosecond reaction. Or one simply freezes in utter shock and unwittingly gets it in the neck.

The latest casualty got it between her eyes as she was having supper. She probably invited her uninvited guest to dig in. Maybe the hitman didn’t like the food.

Indeed, it takes a certain level of reptilian sangfroid to whip out a weapon, even use such with lethal precision to repel an attack or neutralize an actual threat.

Despite that Voltaire warning—“to hold a pen is to be at war” – news persons aren’t exactly men of arms steeled in military close quarter battle or fully drilled in the finer points of guerilla warfare. We’re fair game.

We’re mostly a tractable species of workhorses saddled by daily assignments to pry out facts, cross-check facts, tie up loose ends, and bang out reportage, maybe a scoop or two to eke a living. Why, baring the peso figures of our paychecks before public eyes would be tantamount to indecent exposure and gross obscenity.

We just break the news—we don’t exactly break necks or a heart or two as we plough through our daily grind in what is becoming as next to the world’s deadliest combat zone. We’ll cope as we scour the N, E, W, S points of the compass to keep people informed.

The saddest part about a job that puts a news person’s neck on the chopping block: readers and audiences may relish the news but they don’t give a damn about the workers who bring the news.

Now, add a ton of assault to lethal injury. Know ‘em news folks as “enemies.” Astig!

Yeah, astigmatic.

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