Every kid dreams of becoming a doctor, a lawyer, an astronaut or the president. I dreamt about reporting the news…
*Please note that today’s blog post will not be grounded in fact. It will not be balanced… it’s pretty much a rant…
I’ve been a journalist for just about long enough to understand how the media industry works. I’m no seasoned veteran. I don’t know nearly as much as I would like to, but I’ve seen enough to know that my childish delusions of grandeur about what it would be like to be a journalist are nothing but a pipe dream.
I believed in the fourth estate. I believed in keeping the citizenry of a democratic state informed, holding those in power to account and I wanted to change the world.
I never dreamt of earning significant amounts of money, and any journalist that does is lying to themselves. But, as I grew up, I took a liking to sports (football specifically), where such ideals don’t really exist. Unfortunately, sports writing is not quite the path that I wanted to take, and it’s where I find myself at the infancy of my career. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that the basic principles and ethical codes do not apply to the sports industry. There is so much money in football these days… and there’s inevitably a boss at the top that’s profiting from his exploitation of the little guy at the bottom of the pile. Politics exist in sport in the same way as they do in real life. But, for the sake of keeping my job, I won’t go into that and I’ll rather speak about how the media operates in general…
Like I was saying, journalism is supposed to be an honourable profession and I never chose it to make money, but to effect change in this world. I suppose teachers feel the same way, but I believe that the mass media is a far broader reaching scheme through which one can educate the world and rid it of ignorance.
But, like everything else, the mass media has been bastardised by money. As journalists, we so unashamedly fish for clicks (clickbait) these days that the standard of our output has been degraded to the point that people have become despondent and couldn’t even be bothered to read the news, so they watch reality television.
Our editors tell us that they don’t care about the quality of the story, about how much the readers need to hear it, but about who the person is that it is covering and how controversial and sensationalized it is… how many readers are going to “click” on it. A headline has turned from a catchy way to summarize a story and draw the reader in into a sequence of keywords that are google-able and match a formula for maximizing reads. This is largely a result of the changing media landscape that has been brought about by the digital age.
BUT, that’s bullshit! Technological changes have created a challenge for the media. Print media is dead. Move on… Your profits will take a hit, but you can get up, dust yourself and rise up to that challenge.
The sad truth is that 99% of the media bosses, the editors and the journalists sold out. The other 1% lost their jobs. Says a lot about the integrity of our media. When these guys dreamt of becoming journalists, like I did, did they dream about their pay cheque or did they dream about their immovable ethics? Did they dream about being fair and accurate, about telling the truth? Did they dream about writing a story and breaking the news no matter who tried to stop them?
Maybe I’m naïve, maybe I’m juvenile, maybe I’m just a 25-year-old idealists. Perhaps when I’m 35 the despondency will take over and I’ll fall in line…. But, for now, I’m ashamed to call myself a journalist and I can’t believe what this once great profession has turned into.