Although death is a fact present in our daily lives, we are never prepared to deal professionally with the tragedy when it, sneakily and suddenly, hits us in full. Whether it is because we are in constant
movement or because we witness shootings, fights and violent demonstrations or because sometimes we are the only ones who want to get into places where everyone wants to leave, journalists often feel the same pain as the people who carry tragic cover.
In addition to the shadow of accidents and conflicts, journalists are targets with sad regularity of aggression by those who want to silence the truth and freedom of expression. Even so, the risk of death is rarely commented upon by us. It is a kind of superstition: we imagine that the less we talk about it, the further it will hold.
Unfortunately, nothing more false. The death of 20 Brazilian professionals in an single air accident is one of the biggest tragedies that has hit the world press in recent history. In all latitudes and longitudes, the world of journalism is shaken and dismayed as it has rarely been seen before.
The journalists on the charter flight had been hand-picked for the mission. Participating in the coverage of an international final is a subject reserved for a few – a sort of journalistic award for all who work in the sports press. The colleagues who died in Colombia – among them five dear colleagues of RBS Group, where I work for, combined their talent with one of the most glorious moments of Santa Catarina State football and the passion to inform.
In no activity is there noble death – there are only personal and family deaths and dramas to mourn and sympathize with. But the professionals who lost their lives in the Colombian mountains leave their families, friends and colleagues with everlasting admiration and respect for those who, like them, make no effort to bring information to the public. This yes is a noble and fundamental mission for society and, therefore, the dead colleagues will remain forever as a light to inspire the profession and the next generations of journalists.
Marcelo Rech is Editorial Vice-President of RBS Group, President of the Brazilian Newspaper Association and President of the World Editors Forum.