In the midst of 'fake news' and 'alternative facts', one student writer explains why he has become disillusioned with his chosen field of journalism.
In 1787, Edmund Burke dubbed journalists as “The Fourth Estate” of society, to provide unbiased information gathered from the first and second estates to the bourgeoisie of the third estate. 230 years later, the once respected fourth estate is nothing more but a slave to the noble second estate ever since their revenue has been threatened by the universal accessibility present in the internet.
At heart I am a storyteller, fact and fiction, but since fiction is a risqué profession in terms of success, journalism felt the like the path I could enjoy for both my passions and my pockets. I have only studied the profession for six months and unfortunately due to what has transpired over the months of my study, the word has left a bitter taste in my mouth.
This isn’t due to my stories being rejected by the campus paper or the generation of future clickbait writers that surround me on a daily basis. My innocent interest in what should be the vessel for truth has been, in my opinion, reduced to a money-fuelled machine by the ever-so progressive nature of political correctness and identity politics.
And no, the internet didn’t kill journalism. Neither did the readers mindlessly clicking on listicles. It’s simple business. There are many tactics as to how to combat competitors; you can either do better (with the power of the internet after all, there are an infinite amount of possibilities) or you reduce yourself to them and try to compete with them on their level and unfortunately it’s the latter where the fourth estate has steered in this century.
Look, news sites can get things wrong, news sites can provide unverified information they received that might be an update for an ongoing story, it is all about being first. This gamble of being first rather than second has led us to where we are now, since, from recent events, being first and wrong always loses to second and right.
This becomes real a problem when these “alternative facts” were either received from a very unreliable source (e.g. Buzzfeed. Good job CNN), or when you do not provide the full story and sickeningly twist your narrative it in such a way that, regardless of whomever receives the brunt of the article, all that matters is that readers and or watchers give your advertisers money.
You then have the absolute gall to ask for a monthly subscription from me for your website just because “Woe is us, citizen journalists and their gosh-darn smartphones are taking our jobs!”
No. They are actually doing your job and the real kicker is they’re doing a better job than you.
While you are all in your comfortable swirling chairs talking about violent (yet somehow justifiable) riots conducted by teenage Marxists, there are real journalists out there disregarding their safety in no-go areas covering what you should be covering.
The ugly truth is, is that this isn’t something “new”; I’m not writing a breaking news story here. I’m not talking ‘Dewey Beats Truman’, I’m talking Lügenpresse, full-on manipulation of the people through this abuse of power.
What has troubled my mind from the endless ‘fake news’ is now I wonder, who’s to say the tactic of abusing this great power in manipulating the mind of the people hasn’t been practiced throughout time?
Will it stop? I truly believe it won’t. If this is what they have been using ever since its inception, then I doubt that in the face of infinite alternative adversaries, the propaganda will only accelerate.
I don’t want to smear a man’s good name because it’s a slow news day, I don’t want describe a foreign terrorist “simply misunderstood” so that it won’t hurt someone’s feelings and most certainly I don’t want to sell off my beliefs for the sake of lying to the people.
This is why, I don’t want to be a journalist anymore.