Broadcast journalists have a special role to play during major news stories. Whether it’s Beaconsfield or Port Arthur, the Bali bombings or 9/11, Ash Wednesday or the Sydney Siege, the faces and voices who bring us rolling coverage of a tragedy walk an incredibly fine line.
The best of them manage to combine empathy, sensitivity, authority and information. They ask the questions we have in our heads and they relay the emotions we feel in our hearts.
And it’s far, far harder than it looks.
— Melissa Doyle (@melissadoyle) December 15, 2014
Sometimes they have just a little bit of information, sometimes they have a deluge; they have people in their ears feeding them updates and camera crews giving them hand signals while they stand often for hours in the middle of chaotic scenes talking to traumatised people.
Not for a moment do I compare this work to the unseen, unsung actions of police and emergency services professionals whose risk their lives on top of all this and for far less money. They are the true heroes of any situation like this. But journalists have the most visible role and often serve as the gatekeepers and transmitters of information; information we the public are hungry for.
Occasionally, there is a standout. Someone who walks that line with the perfect balance of compassion and gravitas.
During the Sydney Siege, that person was Melissa Doyle, whose rolling coverage at the scene in Martin Place over the day of the siege and its aftermath was outstanding.