Charnice Milton (Courtesy photo)

The journalism profession is a noble calling upon those who believe through words, they can make a significant difference in society and in the lives of the people they wish to serve. Consumers of news watch newscasters report stories based on facts and analyze facts to espouse opinions on the day’s major news events. Reporters are extended members of the family whose names are memorized and recalled on a first-name basis. They bring value to the lives of readers and viewers who want to stay informed through news stories about issues they care about and images that bring those stories to life. 

The reporter’s life appears glamorous and many believe the profession pays high salaries. That’s half true. There is glamor simply derived from knowing hundreds read your story and those in powerful places reacted to it. But, the job does not always pay well despite the ultimate sacrifices it requires. 

There is no more extraordinary sacrifice reporters give than their lives often lost in the line of duty. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that 12 journalists’ lives have been lost this year, many on dangerous assignments in countries including Mexico, Chad and Haiti. Two of them were Fox News reporters killed in crossfire in the current Russian war against Ukraine. 

The United Nations reported that 55 journalists were killed worldwide in 2021. They have condemned leaders for not doing more to protect journalists. “Right now, the world needs independent, factual information more than ever. We must do more to ensure that those who work tirelessly to provide this can do so without fear,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. 

It’s in this light that communities remember Charnice Milton, the 27-year-old reporter gunned down at a bus stop in Southeast on May 27, 2015. Milton was returning home from covering an ANC meeting at Eastern Market for Capital Community News. Her murder case remains unsolved and a $25,000 reward remains for the arrest of her killer. 

Just two weeks ago, a 25-year-old reporter for the Virginian Pilot was killed by random gunfire outside of a bar in Norfolk, Virginia. Both young Black women were recognized by their respective employers as rising stars with great potential. 

Just as soldiers are called to war, law enforcement is called to reduce crime, and first responders are called to provide aid, reporters also play a vital role in covering stories, reporting wrongdoing, or describing a job that is done well. Reporters’ lives matter because they accept the responsibility to protect a free and democratic society with their weapons – the pen.

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