Journalism requires grit and fearlessness. Sometimes, you gotta' break rules. But sometimes, when you break too many rules, people look at you and that's what they see: a rule breaker. Michael Hastings, a journalist for Rolling Stone and Buzzfeed who shook the U.S. military with his story that caused an uproar, died June 18. He crashed his car and boom. He was gone.
People are skeptical, however. Hastings was a controversial reporter. He was unafraid and dived into matters most people ignored. I want to do the same, but these rumors and conspiracies sort of freak me out. Was Hastings killed? And if so, would the same happen to me if I had some secrets and wrong-doings to expose?
Benjamin Wallace addresses the conspiracy of Hastings' death in his New York Magazine article "Who Killed Michael Hastings?" While some people totally believe Hastings was killed by the government that he believed was keeping tabs on him, Wallace seems skeptical in his article.
I, for one, don't know what to believe. I don't trust the U.S. government after this whole National Security Agency scandal (not that I trusted it before then), but Hastings had a drug problem, so who knows. Was it murder, or was it a regular accident?
It is unfortunate, though, that any journalist should live in fear of his or her life because of a story he or she is working on. Hastings sent several messages to people a few days before his death informing them of his fear that the government was watching him. We shouldn't be living in a Big Brother Orwellian world where we live in fear of the government catching us doing something "wrong."
And by wrong I mean exposing what is.
I am a journalist, and as long as I have a pen in my hand or the keyboard to my fingers, I refuse to live in fear of government tactics. I recently learned of Arundhati Roy, an Indian writer exposing the malices of globalization in her country. The Indian government arrested her for conspiracy when really she was writing the truth.
I admire her and look up to her. I only hope I don't end up like Hastings. I don't want my reporting to leave me afraid — or dead.