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In the age of post-truth, official lies and muffled press, we need one thing from our journalists: the truth, and nothing but the truth.
That’s right, I’m writing an entire goddamn article about a single tweet made by another political commentator. It probably won’t even be a long article, because the excellent Tim Black said it all. Call me lazy, I don’t care, this is the most interesting thing I’ve seen all day:
“Last night, one of my callers said we needed journalists and commentators willing to die for the truth,” Black tweeted. “I disagreed. We need journalists and commentators willing to give up their status, quit their jobs and make less money telling truth and sadly to most that’s the same as dying.”
There’s so much truth in that I just want to unpack it a bit and riff on its implications from my own perspective. What would happen if a significant percentage of journalists got fed up with spoon-feeding lies to a trusting populace and decided to place truth and authenticity before income and prestige?
I contend that if enough people did either of the above, it would save the world. The omnicidal, ecocidal Orwellian power establishment that is oppressing us into heartlessness and driving our species towards extinction depends on deception and manipulation to manufacture support for depraved plutocratic agendas, so truth is poison to those agendas. The plutocrat-controlled media outlets advance that deception and manipulation, and honest alternative media outlets disrupt it. If enough talent began flooding into the latter instead of the former, it would become impossible to manufacture the consent of the governed for the deranged agendas which imperil our whole world.
We have already seen that in the new media environment, talented voices are uplifted by the crowd regardless of whether the mass media gatekeeping mechanism has authorised those voices or not. If you are authentic, truthful and interesting, you will gain an audience fairly quickly. People will want to hear what you have to say and they will support you in all manner of ways, including financially, to make that happen.
I can already see looking around from where I’m at that there are still so many niches to be filled in crowd-funded media. Not just in doing opinion and analysis like I focus on, but in gathering information, in synthesising information, and presenting it in an attractive, shareable way that gets that information into mainstream consciousness. There’s still so much room for people who can go through all the information being presented by independent journalists reporting on Syria, just to name one example, and then summarise that information simply and concisely for broad public consumption. Every morning I wake up and think about what to write that day, and for every story I choose there are dozens of others I don’t have time for. There’s so much more space for talent in alternative news media than is currently being utilised, largely I am sure because young people are told to pursue their journalistic ambitions through traditional paths.
Last night, one of my callers said we needed journalists and commentators willing to die for the truth. I disagreed. We need journalists and commentators willing to give up their status, quit their jobs and make less money telling truth and sadly to most that’s the same as dying.
— Tim Black ™ (@RealTimBlack) 18 August 2018
And as Tim Black said, once you’ve set your sights on climbing to the top of the establishment media ladder, abandoning it can feel like death. And indeed, it is a kind of death: a death of the identity one builds up around the possession and pursuit of the power, prestige and wealth that comes with the realisation of that goal. It’s a death of an egoic structure, one that a whole lot of energy has gone into upholding. Serving power has been both financially and socially rewarding for as long as there have been governments.
But look at what comes in with that. Look at Wolf Blitzer’s soulless, vacuous face when he’s reporting. That man is either some kind of sociopath or he’s self-medicating to tolerate the cognitive dissonance which necessarily comes with living a life that sits squarely in opposition to truth and authenticity, and either way he’s pointed straight at death. Not ego death, real death.
Then watch Tim Black’s heartfelt, thoughtful, frequently hilarious presentations, and ask yourself who’s more alive? Who’s living an authentic and present life?
Which would you rather be, young journalists and commentators? Do you want to be a Wolf Blitzer, or do you want to be a Tim Black? Do you want a life that is in service of the pursuit of truth, or do you want a life that is in service of deception?
What if journalists decided to place truth and authenticity before income and prestige? What if people who are interested in reporting and political analysis ceased pursuing positions in the plutocrat-owned mass media?
One of the criticisms I often see levelled at dissident media voices is that they aren’t real journalists because they “have an agenda”. It’s one of the most frequent attacks you’ll see made against Julian Assange; “He’s not a journalist because has an agenda.” Like Wolf Blitzer doesn’t have an agenda. Blitzer’s agenda is to maintain his wealth and prestige and hopefully get through one more day without throwing himself off a fucking bridge, whereas Assange has the agenda of exposing the secrets of the powerful to the public. All journalists have an agenda; the only difference is whether your agenda is self-serving or world-serving.
Anyway, I’m just putting this out there for anyone who’s thought about getting into this alternative news media gig, that there is plenty of room here. I don’t care if you’re just out of university and looking for fulfilling career possibilities or if you’ve been mopping floors for 30 years; if you feel like you’ve got something to say and you’re honest and interesting, there is an audience for you.
Something to think about.
And for any journalists who might be reading this, to paraphrase my friend Roger Waters (one of the many angels who has appeared out of nowhere to support me in this gig), ask yourself, are you exchanging a walk-on part in the war, for a lead role in a cage? Make the jump.
Your soul is dying for you to do it.