There are certain careers where one must display professionalism. No, excuse me, in every career one must display professionalism not just to uphold the goodwill of the company they serve, but because of their own integrity and the need to respect those to whom they provide a service.

20131019boxPolice officers are expected to perform their duties while respecting citizens; soldiers are required to hold to a standard on and off duty; servers in the food business must do so with a smile to keep customers coming back and bank tellers must make customers feel their money is in good hands.

When it comes to media workers professionalism should be their watchword. Local media personnel are painfully aware of how easy it is to acquire a bad name, having been called ‘vultures’ and other derogatory terms while executing their duty to keep the public informed and entertained. The qualities of a good journalist that I see in most of my close colleagues are: competence, reliability, honesty, integrity, respect and empathy. They are non-biased, they listen and are willing to share their knowledge. Yet they are not afraid to ask questions and to speak up when necessary as I am doing now.

Anyone who attended the Mr and Ms Guyana Talented Teen Pageant at the National Cultural Centre last Saturday would have been aware of what could be described as perhaps the worst audience behaviour or certainly ranking among the top ten.

Sure, the pageant appeared to be disorganised. And yes, some of the young people faltered and made mistakes. In addition, the results were slow in coming, but the behaviour of the audience was unwarranted. Unfortunately, the person leading the dissatisfactory heckling in the theatre was a member of the media.

I have been on assignments before around this very same reporter and noticed the same sort of ridiculous, loud and deplorable remarks constantly being made. In my head I could imagine taping the individual’s mouth with steaming hot duct tape. It reached the point in the NCC where I had wanted to walk over to him and remind him of his duties and the basic etiquette he lacks. I lie. I wanted to shout that he was an idiot, but that would have been unprofessional of me. Instead I walked over to the usher and asked for the heckler to be removed.

The usher apologised to me for the heckler’s behaviour, along with other members of the audience who chimed in and said that she would bring it up with the manager. The heckler wasn’t removed and the opinions grew louder. I was forced to put up with it, since I had a job to do and reminded myself that the heckler’s unprofessionalism should not degrade my responsibility.

In a moment of weakness I sent a message to my editor telling her that for every assignment given to me where this reporter was present, I was going to charge the company for therapy. I am a jokey kind of fellow so I assume she knew I was joking but really, I don’t know how much more of this fellow I can stand.

Actually, and it should be no surprise, the heckler’s name has now become synonymous with a media disaster. Mind you, I am not bashing anyone. I hold no ill will towards anyone and notice I have not mentioned a name or company. But if you feel this article speaks to you, then I invite you to wear the cap.

This is a call for everyone in the media profession to exercise basic social etiquette on and off duty. You have a responsibility to yourself and to the profession you claim to represent to be respectful to others around you. There is always someone watching you and again I say it, we have to be professional; we have a responsibility to the public we serve and the company we represent.

This is also a call for anyone out there, no matter who you are, to be respectful especially while in the theatre. In seeking to ridicule those who have the courage to stand on a stage in front of a group of strangers and perform whether at a concert, play or pageant, you are demeaning yourself. You’re saying: ‘Look at me, I have no manners and no shame as well’. Give respect and you will earn it.