I have two friends and colleagues in the vicinity of Cairns North Queensland at the moment. Both Brian Cassey and Jake Nowakowski are fine photojournalists (in fact Jake's photos are part of the intense coverage of the preparations for Yasi for the Australian Newspaper) You can see them here.
and I am of course worried for them.
I do have another friend, colleague and another fine photojournalist Laura El-Tantawy also currently flying into her birth city of Cairo.
These are two situations which are potentially deadly for anyone of my three mates who are photographing these events for whatever news organisations that employ them. They are all experienced, intelligent and level headed people who will not take undue risks, but in saying that, are in the hands of unpredictable circumstances.
So are they foolish or driven? Is there an essence of courage or just a simple 'I am doing my job' mentality?
The media coverage for both of these quite possibly cataclysmic affairs is saturated. Everyman and his dog it appears, can send poor quality images of the unfolding events into major news organisations and have their images shown world wide. This is now a common practice and much of what is received by the news organisations is unverified, poor quality and sometimes quite dubious.
And while the advances of technology can give us a more rounded view of real time disasters (look here at the enterprise of one resident of Cairns who has created a twitter page to report on the storm)
we rely on the veracity of journalistic professionalism to give an unbiased account of what is occurring around the world. Though it appears it is more and more difficult to pay the bills based on what we earn as photojournalists.
So at this point, when three of my friends are in very precarious situations I would wish News Limited all of the success in the world of bringing in a subscription based paywall for its publications. If it brings money back into the industry to train new entrants in news gathering and lift the level of professional journalism.
This would undoubtedly have an effect on such er, 'presenters' of news such as David Koch, better known as 'Kochie' who once famously pushed his way into an ambulance when attempting to 'interview' the newly rescued Beaconsfield miners. Whilst holding the title of co-host of the Seven Television Network 'Sunrise' one wonders what actual training he has had as a journalist.
Jumping into ambulances might appear to be de rigueur for the likes of Clark Kent but did 'Kochie' realise that Clark was a fictional character?
I guess we will soon find out. 'Kochie' is in Townsville covering the category five Cylcone Yasi and when that sucker hits there will definitely not be a hiding place. Even Superman has problems with Mother Nature...
To Brian, Jake and Laura, my thoughts are with you.... Stay safe and don't forget to duck...