This opinion piece was first published in Holding The Line.
Are journalists the most clueless people in society?
As a bitter newspaper hack of many years, I have come to realise the answer is yes.
Most journalists never look outside of the mainstream bubble for information, and they also tend to repeat what they are told by authority.
But they also don’t have time to do any digging or investigating.
It’s a recipe for disaster when it comes to holding authority to account, and has led to a big drop in public trust in the legacy media.
At their core, newspapers are money-making machines, especially so for the vast majority owned by large media groups like Reach, NewsQuest and National World.
But within these titles are journalists who genuinely do want to serve their communities and ensure corruption and wrongdoing are brought to the public’s attention.
So how have these individuals and the disinformation machines they work for got things so wrong for such a long time?
Fear is the main reason, and it works on many levels. This fear keeps them ignorant, it stops them asking difficult questions, it stops them submitting challenging story ideas, and it makes them inclined to believe what everyone else is saying, even if they know deep down that something is not right.
For most of my career, I was under that spell of fear, and it was liberating to break free from it, although that has been frightening in itself.
Publicly questioning established narratives in the office and on my social media accounts has been met with criticism, scorn and—most recently—silence from my colleagues.
These same colleagues build their understanding of the world from the television and newspapers, where established narratives of the world are constructed and embedded in their psyche.
What can be done about this issue, when gaping holes in journalists’ knowledge have allowed wars to take place on false pretences and for freedoms to be sacrificed willingly in return for ‘public safety’?
The answer is not complicated. Do not trust anything you read in newspapers or watch on television; it’s that simple. Their currency is in propaganda, censorship, and lying on an industrial scale.
A version of reality has been created by the legacy news that is so far from the truth that it has become impossible for those who believe that reality to break free.
To do so would be too traumatic, and therefore—subconsciously or otherwise—journalists who create and believe in this false reality do all they can to protect it.
The human suffering that has been allowed to pass, and the lies that have been repeated again and again without challenge, are unforgivable to those who are wise in the ways of the world.
But the situation we are in is not a new phenomenon, although it has become more apparent since early 2020.
Turning off the television, or at least treating its talking heads with extreme scepticism, is an essential step for any journalist seriously wanting to serve their communities.
Journalists must take that fear holding them back, and replace it with a fear of what society could become if they continue to operate only within the false realities they have helped create.