The sign is a variant on the famous Martin Niemöller poem.
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
This photo is important because it was a take on these very difficult times for reporters. I remember acutely how tough it was to be a journalist. As an business/IT reporter, I had tech executives threatening me when I wrote negative (but factual) stories. One CEO who left behind millions in unpaid creditors after his bankruptcy (then reincorporated under a slightly different name and returned to the computer sector) used to come by my office every week for two months to tell me that he was going to ensure I was left penniless and homeless if I didn’t stop reporting about his unpaid creditors. This type of threat was just a part of the job.
Of course, that is nothing when you consider that 45 journalists have been killed this year alone simply for doing their jobs. That’s not counting the reporters who have been assaulted or threatened (that number is far, far larger).
When I was being threatened, I always reminded myself that the work was so important, and I was helping the public and business community make better decisions, providing a public service.
I can’t imagine how we’d survive without reporters. Unfortunately, these are scary times we live in.