By Kim Trynacity, CBC/Radio-Canada Branch President for the Canadian Media Guild
How about the “Freedom” to do your job without being harassed, insulted, harangued?
How about the freedom to sleep at night without diesel fumes permeating your home?
Or the freedom to walk safely through a crowd, that in this democratic system of ours, can gather, can yell to oppose and make a point for the whole world to see?
As the so-called truckers’ convoy drags on and disrupts, journalists and crews are once again being subjected to abusive treatment by those who now feel emboldened and entitled to break free of the restrictive measures which have ensnared all of us for the past two years.
Screen grabs, and emails from our journalists portray a climate of fear, despite best efforts by many employers to keep everyone safe – there is a very big risk.
“I was threatened, harassed and yelled at multiple points in my shift,” wrote one of our members, who passed along a screen grab from another journalist.
He wrote this after wading into a crowd of convoy protesters:
“One woman gave me the finger, another man holding his daughter’s hand, threatened to throw me into highway traffic, and a group of 3 protesters started following me calling me ‘fucking scum’ while recording it so I didn’t spin it.”
Another one of our journalists reports being sent threatening messages on her Facebook page from convoy members.
(We are not identifying the reporters to protect their safety)
A CTV crew in Edmonton removed identifying decals from their vans this week, some CBC locations chose to do that a year ago.
Where once flying the colours of who you worked for was a necessary part of the job and role in the community, it’s better not to be singled out.
It’s that bad.
This of course, is not the first time reporters have been targeted – but it is now becoming normalized.
Journalists play a critical role in overseeing democracy. As they are scared off from telling us what’s really going on – the difference between measured protest, and civil insurrection just gets bigger and scarier to analyze or just cover.
Unions are all about ensuring the safety of their members, protecting jobs, and growing their numbers. But with these increasingly volatile and dangerous situations, much more must be done to protect the frontline workers – The journalists who routinely knock on the doors of strangers just to find out what’s happening.
Are we now going to have to send in drones instead of videographers? Automated robots to ask questions, record interviews? At least that way racial slurs wouldn’t have a devastating impact, nor would threats to a robot family, or foul insults to a drone!
Surely this is not what we want.
But this foray into anarchy is threatening media workers and the work they do, just as it has now crippled trade and will likely cost jobs.
Weakened politicians are now too scared to poke the unleashed angry bear.
It’s time for us as a society to really look at what journalists are having to endure to do their work, what it takes to get balanced coverage today, and at what cost.
The reality is that every worker has the right to refuse unsafe work.