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EDITOR'S BLOG: The dark side of journalism

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I LOVE my job - Leveson, long hours, disappointing pay packet, and frequent abuse aside; I still think it's the best job in the world.
But it has one bigger downside. As a reporter and now editor, I've become used to coping with anything, some pretty dark and depressing situations.
Journalists learn to develop a certain gallows humour, but they can also become desensitised, inhumane even, to the point where nothing shocks us. It becomes another story on the page.
I've noticed this trait develop within me and, frankly, I don't like it. Even at recent funerals of family members, I'm the one who doesn't cry, probably because of this shield I've built up over the years. It doesn't mean I'm not upset, I have just become used to tragedy and loss, via my job.
And yes, I'm aware it is far, far worse for people like soldiers, medics, firefighters, who encounter these situations more frequently and, often, in far closer proximity than from behind a keyboard. But journalism changes you, undoubtedly, and perhaps not always for the better.
This past few days, two stories have broken which, frankly, are about as tragic as you can get - the deaths of two young children in simply horrendous circumstances.
Usually, when a grim piece of news comes our way (and, in Croydon, I'm afraid it happens more frequently than in most places) the barriers tend to come up, the professional head is switched on and it's about making sure the story is presented properly to our readers. It's about being responsible and sensitive to the feelings of those involved but also, the emotion tends to be removed from the equation
This week felt different though. I felt a lump in my throat, a sense of genuine shock and upset at what had happened. I've recently become a father and, well, there but for the grace of God.
The reporting team were the same. The gallows humour and slightly warped 'celebration' of bad news was replaced by a pretty empty feeling, of genuine shock and sadness.
Friday's paper will be a tough read and I realise some of you will take issue with our reporting of the incidents, our use of photographs and other aspects.
All I can assure you, and the families of those involved, is that we'll treat the tragedies with the respect and sensitivity they demand, while being mindful of our duty as a newspaper to report and inform.
Piers Morgan once wrote that "every editor should have kids".
He's right, it makes you think differently. More like a human being.


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