A lot of things pass for journalism these days—opinion, repetition, intentional incitation. The American public seems disinterested in distinctions the likes of which helped bring this nation into being. But not so in Egypt, where professional journalists were detained and threatened for covering the public uprising against President Hosni Mubarak.
"A man in police uniform came up to me and said, 'So help me God... I am going to cut off your head,'" said ABC's Brian Hartman, whose news crew reported being carjacked at a makeshift checkpoint near Cairo.
Hartman's colleague, Christiane Amanpour, was in a car that took a brick through the windshield. CNN's Anderson Cooper reported being attacked by a mob. Two Fox News personnel wound up in a Cairo hospital. CBS's Lora Logan was detained at gunpoint; her colleague's videographer was Maced. Dozens more were bullied, and it wasn't just U.S. journalists. Reporters from Great Britain, Canada, Belgium, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Turkey, Greece, China, Russia, France, Israel, Qatar and from within Egypt reported being harassed.
Mubarak supporters blamed journalists for the uprising, though hundreds of Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square long before cameras arrived. That's not relevant among the irrational, aggrieved and egregious. The messenger will always be blamed by the intolerant and the corrupt.
Journalism today is widely derided for reasons real and imagined, but mostly because the term is loosely applied to so many forms. There are practices, imitations, trades, spoofs, aggregations and everything in between. But there is only one profession of journalism. Daniel Pearl, Bob Woodruff, Kimberly Dozier and many others paid a very steep price to uphold its principles of speaking truth to power. Neither should they nor their brethren in Egypt be confused with the buffoons, clowns and parrots impersonating journalists.
There's an infinitely huge difference.
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