What is it that makes a newsroom any different from an ER? The timings are similar; the requirements may vary, but allow me to elaborate on some main common themes between the two professions.
Bright fluorescent lights, ubiquitous screens, phones ringing off the hook, and people dashing across corridors, papers flailing from their hands – these characteristics could very well be that of a hospital…or the newsroom. The only difference is that as doctors have stethoscopes, reporters hold note pads and portable recorders.
There are screams of urgency when news breaks much like an ambulance delivering a person in critical condition. Just like the images we receive on our screen for footage to use on a report.
Being part of a newsroom demands that a member of the staff is usually on call. Whether its lunchtime or bedtime, a reporter must be available at all times. There are days when I have a slow start, and only get news during the second half of my shift, and there are days when I forget that breakfast was merely 10 hours ago. Time zones are to the newsroom as women in labor are to doctors – they exist, and they are scheduled, yet they still manage to be predictably unpredictable.
Part of the job description of being a doctor is to be immune to abundant amounts of blood, accidents and fatality. If not first hand, reports deal with such misfortune by viewing and filtering footage.
I must admit the first few instances that I had to filter such disturbing footage, I was overwhelmed by the reality of political turmoil. I later told myself that if I wanted to be an objective reporter I had to become emotionally detached from the subjects.
Doctors save lives, while reporters magnify their heroism, and I’d like to think that we can actually empathize when it comes to dealing with unnecessary cases of casualties.
(Nadia Idriss Mayen, Executive producer of Web TV at Al Arabiya English, can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)