FAKE NEWS!!! Reporters and journalists are liars, they’re only spreading propaganda and their own biased agenda…right? That’s what our current world wants us to believe (and whether you do or not is a moot point). The media, specifically journalists, used to be the heroes of the common people, they used to highlight the truth in our world that those higher up wanted to keep hidden. Shedding light on the truth can be a dangerous job, men and women put their lives on the line to show the world what is really happening out there while we are being told it’s not.
Veronica Guerin was an Irish crime reporter in the 1990s working for the Irish newspaper the Sunday Independent. She was dedicated to uncovering the truth and would often pursue a story to its source, even if it was dangerous. She immersed herself into the world of crime and exposed its seedy underbelly. Veronica started receiving death threats because of her reporting, two shots were fired into her home in October 1994, and in January 1995 she answered her door to a man holding a gun to her head. He fired but missed and shot her in the leg. These threats and acts of violence did not deter her though, she was determined. She won the International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists in December 1995 because of her courage and dedication.
“It'll be worse for me, and it'll be worse for journalism or any journalist if I was to be intimidated. Then that means they've won, and they're not going to win.”
On June 26, 1996 while driving on the outskirts of Dublin Veronica was fatally shot 6 times by two men on motorcycles. She was murdered by members of a gang she had reported on. She was murdered two days before she was to speak at a Freedom Forum, her topic was “Dying to Tell the Story: Journalists at Risk”. Her murder sent a shockwave through the journalism community, but it did not deter justice – over 150 arrests and convictions were made and crime in Ireland dropped 15% in the year following her death. She has been memorialized in the Dublin Castle gardens, her name (as well as 38 other international journalists) was added to the Freedom Forum Journalist Memorial in Arlington, VA, in 2000 she was named one of the International Press Institute’s 50 World Press Freedom Heroes of the past 50 years, a scholarship was set up in her name and is awarded to students who want to specialize in investigative journalism and a movie was made about her life in 2003.
Her life was taken by the ruthless criminals she was exposing but they cannot take her memory nor all the good she did in the world. She spoke the truth and people listened and that is what made them afraid, they knew she was their undoing. She pushed until the truth was exposed, and in a world of fake news we need to keep pushing for what is real and what is right. We need to push as Veronica Guerin pushed, we need to be strong and fearless. We need to stand for what is right.
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Written By: Alicia Whitcome