Whenever a journalist meets someone who is not part of the media, she or he is invariably accosted and asked to provide tidbits of information that are not supposed to be in the public domain. Journalists are expected to be repositories of facts that they cannot write or speak openly about, vignettes about the foibles and frailties of the high and the mighty, the rich and the infamous. Some journos readily acknowledge they know little beyond what they have already purveyed, while the more self-indulgent lot feel suitably flattered to part with salacious and sensational conjectures: “Oh, I have heard that so-and-so is sleeping with so-and-so but I haven’t actually peeped through the keyhole.”
Having thus satiated others’ curiosity for gossip, the smug and self-important scribe moves on, wallowing in her or his temporary delusions of grandeur. Not all journalists are, however, venal and corrupt. There are some who still firmly believe they have to report what they consider the truth to all who will read or listen to them. They don’t take themselves too seriously yet, at the same time, are convinced they have a duty to perform to their audiences and that they have certain obligations to society—to uphold democracy, to ensure transparency, to be adversarial towards those in positions of power and authority and, to recall the oft-quoted words of American writer Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936), “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”.