“Liars For Hire” – Confessions Of A Former Journalist From The Media Establishment
How to buy friends and shill for enemies
I doubt anyone needs to be reminded that the media is rotten to the core; even the most reluctant and closed-minded people are accepting this as a given now. But despite the media being widely condemned nowadays (my special thanks to Germans for bringing the word “Lügenpresse” back), few people know or understand what’s really going on in the journalistic kitchens, where the foul slop of lies that people are fed every day is cooked up. However, there is always a way in—through purposeful infiltration or, in my case, by accident.
I have an old friend—let’s call him Sven—whom I always knew as a kind-hearted and sincere man. However, these traits are also coupled with always assuming the best of people and being rather naive. Due to this, he keeps ending up in awkward and sometimes dangerous situations. One of them turned out to be a short stint as a journalist for a popular online newspaper. He barely maintained contact during his employment and eventually went completely off the grid. In about a month, he resurfaced a changed man, and not for the better. As he explained, he quit the job and then shut himself in for a while, armed with nothing but alcohol, to cope with the depression working as a journalist gave him.
Now, this probably sounds very soft to many of you, including myself. Men don’t sink into depressions or try to drink themselves out of problems. While I granted my friend the clemency of explaining his failures to him, I also recognized the usefulness of his experience and started questioning him about what he saw and heard at the job. I will relay his findings below; however, I will not disclose his true name or the name of his employer—given the “free” country we live in, this can land him in very hot water.
Whoever pays you, owns you
Just your regular journalists waiting for their paycheck.
Sven joined the ranks of journalists to tell people the truth. To his credit, he believed he would be doing exactly that. His first assignment sounded so simple, after all—talk to a person, record the conversation, write an article, publish it. The reality turned out to be diametrically different—after our fresh-baked journalist returned from his first interview, he was immediately ordered to transcribe the recording and email it to the content manager. Half an hour later Sven received a heavily edited version of the transcript, with the parts he considered most crucial replaced with meaningless buzzwords or removed completely. When he went to the manager to voice his indignation, the manager simply replied: “This man did not pay us for an article that would disparage him. Get back to your desk.”
This was far from the only case of Sven witnessing how much pull money has in journalism. His numerous colleagues almost never produced independent content—they were too busy publishing one paid article after another. When Sven asked whether these articles should be marked as sponsored, the only reply he got was a bitter laugh. Very often the content manager would come over to his desk and say something along the lines of “Do you know the guy you are writing about is a close friend of our boss? Do not screw this article up.” Sven was also surprised to see that many interviewees (usually politicians) would not even bother to talk to him, instead referring him to their secretaries or assistants. One of them even went as far as to hand him a pre-written speech, tell him to work with it and walk away.
However, our Sven also happens to possess a burning sense of justice, which has several times led him to ignore the “recommendations” his content manager gave him, deviate from the official story and allow small snippets of truth to make their way into public view. For each of such occurrences he was called to the manager’s room, given a strict admonishment and had his paycheck for the month reduced. Any “unsanctioned” things that he wrote were quickly edited away afterwards—even if the article had already been read by thousands of people. And his was supposed to be a “neutral and objective” media outlet!
Standards? Never heard of ’em.
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