I write, thats what I do. And perhaps due to the fact that this writing has generally focused on those that wanted to be written about, the idea that anything other than that was possible did not enter the realms of my consciousness. But currently undertaking a Masters in Journalism at the University of Westminster (to those that didn’t know) the ease (or relative unease) of engaging with a story came to my attention in a hurry.
“No, No, No.”
Our first assignment as trainee journalists was to embark upon an area of London, and come up with a story. Idea’s and excitement a-plenty we each set off in our different directions, cameras, recording devices, notepads and hearts on our sleeves in tow. Only to get shut down again, and again, and again. Whats going on? we texted each other. “Why do they hate us so much?”
And hate us they really did. “Sorry, no journalists allowed.” “Nope, we don’t speak to journalists.” “no, no, no” like an Amy Winehouse chorus gone wrong.
Desolute we returned to the news room almost empty handed, only to be greeted with a smiling teacher who told us that was basically the point. “You have to make them trust you” he said. Sparking the first inklings that this was half therapy, half writing. “You have to gain their confidence.”
“Hounding packs of press.”
What could our forefathers, the hounding packs of press possibly have done so wrong to have instilled in people the belief that journalism is so bad? So dangerous to undertake in? So imperative to keep your mouth shut, don’t let a word slip.
But after not too much consideration it became impossibly clear. They lied. They twisted words and spun them out to their own benefit, their own agenda’s. They are gifted writers after all, we can make the words say whatever we want them to.
The Musasabi Journal wrote that the three least trusted bodies of work are journalists, government ministers, and politicians. Vice also recently assessed the issue, concluding pretty much the same (graph below.)
In my humble opinion that is not the greatest company to be keeping.
It makes sense now, that nobody wanted to speak to us.
How, though can we change this? Its imperative to. Truth over Beauty should come at any cost. “I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I’m not.” And although it may be easy to get swept away with the desire for newsworthiness, or gore, or (so often these days) both… the majority of information that the public digests comes from journalists. So if we can’t trust them, who can we trust? It is too lonely a world, as it is, to have to doubt even those we need to be trusting.