Reality check: Life has a deadline

Journalists are no strangers to death. They write about it with professional detachment…unless they are writing about one of their own.

I was sitting at my desk when I read an online story – reported with that professional detachment ­–about a body found in the surf.

The Northern Advocate reported on its website: “Tragedy has unfolded at a popular Whangārei Heads surf beach with the discovery of a man’s body in the water earlier this afternoon. Northland Police Senior Sergeant Shane Turner said a man of European descent and around 65-years-old was found dead in the surf at the southern end of Ocean Beach, around 35km from central Whangārei, shortly before 1.13pm.”

I read it with the same detachment I would have employed if I had written the story. It’s an approach that is central to unbiased reporting. It’s also a defence mechanism for journalists to avoid the cumulative effects of witnessing grief.

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