In the wake of Mellissa Fung’s release, the Canadian media have indulged in a quite the frenzy of navel-gazing: what an ethical quandary they faced, whether to report the kidnapping or not. Forests
have been felled
to print the papers
, seams of coal have been mined and burned to create the electrons
for broadcasts as journalists across the country agonized over their collective decision to hush things up. The Globe & Mail’s piece is representative of that analysis
The argument raged for weeks in the dingy newsrooms and dusty Afghanistan bureaus of major international news organizations: What to do about the case of Mellissa Fung?
Ms. Fung’s kidnapping two days before the federal election triggered hand-wringing on an international scale as Ms. Fung’s employer, the CBC, pleaded for discretion from rival news organizations.
Fragile negotiations for her release could be instantly derailed by any publicity, the public broadcaster, the military and the Prime Minister’s Office argued. Headlines might doom Ms. Fung to extra months of captivity, if not worse.
Panicked kidnappers could simply kill her to dispense with the danger of a raid by special forces if the incident became big news.
I’ve already weighed in on whether the decision to hold the news was a valid one, and on the hypocrisy of the decision as well.
But when it comes to the Canadian mainstream media vocally telling all of us just how hard it was for them to decide what to do, I have one more thing to say: shut up.
You want a difficult decision? How about the platoon commander who decides which of his soldiers gets point on the next patrol? Or which young soldier for whom he’s responsible, with whom he’s trained for months if not years, goes first through the door of the insurgent’s safe-house? Or the commander who has to decide whether to attack now and risk casualties, or attack later and risk letting the decisive moment pass? How about the captain who has to live with ordering his XO to board an unknown vessel unarmed, regardless of the consequences? Or the SAR commander who has to balance the lives of his crew against the lives of those he’s tasked with rescuing? Those are tough decisions.
But you know what CF members don’t get that journalists do? The soapbox of a self-indulgent national media that can talk about what it wants, when it wants, how it wants. So to all of you editors and producers sitting in plush offices in Ottawa and Toronto and Montreal: there are people – not just in the CF, but especially there – who make tougher decisions every day than you’ll be asked to make in a lifetime.
Get over yourselves already.