I wrote a post a while ago asking how journalists should report trauma in the wake of the bushfires. I have more to say on it in the Crikey e-mail later today, including some disturbing reports of media intrusion and the line being pushed too far. I also have some things to say about Ross Gittins.

Following on from all this, an idea occurs to me. Why doesn’t a big media organisation – and the ABC might be best placed to do it – spend some real time and resources asking the public what sort of things they want from journalists over the months and years ahead, during which bushfires will continue to be a big story.

We need new ideas on how to do the job of reporting. Something that goes beyond the cliches in which everyone is either a hero or a victim.

As I say in the Crikey e-mail, I have never known a story that so intimately involves us all. Everyone in Victoria, it seems, is either directly affected or knows someone who has lost their home or their life.

If we believe what we say – that journalism is important and a force for good – then we should have the courage to ask what, in this situation, journalists can be for.

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