I had to laugh, eventually. One of the perks of having a rich job history is that I run into pals from different industries from time to time, some of whom read this blog. One of my pals works in the print media and recently I sat down for some coffee and we had a quick and quiet chat in the shadow of a building, inside of which sat one of the self-important demi-Gods who believe that not only do they make a difference to the blue rinse set, but that they are the most important people in the world, nay - the UNIVERSE - today. God love 'em all. If nothing else they are entertaining.
PAL: "So, mate, your blog, damn it's funny."
ME: "I hope you mean funny ha-ha and not funny jeez that's shit."
PAL: "Weeelllll...nah, seriously. What made me laugh the most is how amazed you get about the wankers in there," he said, jerking a thumb behind him, "I'd have thought you knew the media well enough by now, after all you're still in, albeit in a small manner, to know it's about ratings and entertainment. News doesn't exist, let alone compute."
ME: "Sure, but, well I dunno, I'm still amazed I guess."
PAL: "I'll do you a favour. I'll send through every mention that your lot gets for a week. Let's see how inaccurate it is and how much of the world's woes that you're to blame for."
ME: "Done." With that we settled in and enjoyed the warmth of the sun. Winter is passing, some cold mornings, sun is shining, warm days ahead. We drank, we talked, he made his usual half-arsed job offer, I said no, we moved on. I have no desire to work in the media, proper, again.
So what arrived come the end of the week? Loads of stuff. According to one late night raver our fine city is the drug capitol of the world. According to Bronze John, who knows these things better than someone drinking red wine in a studio, we'd not even be the drug capitol of a small asteroid. However it's our fault that we're the drug capitol of the world because we only ever house drug addicts and encourage them to set up clandestine labs and sell their wares to little kids on street corners. That was the start for the night show. The next night we were to blame for a house burning down. It wasn't one of ours, the batteries had been removed from the smoke detectors, but that didn't stop the callers and doyen of journalism ranting about how, again, it's our fault that people remove batteries from smoke alarms. Perhaps we need an alarm to prevent battery removal from every house? Tamper proof packaging perhaps? But he was just getting warmed up. Two nights later he really let rip. It was the good old standby - the "neighbour from hell". The caller, clearly an experienced mental health worker, went on to describe how his neighbour is 'mentally retarded' (does anyone use that term as a valid diagnoses anymore?) and that the neighbour has attacked his car, smashed windows, threatened animal doctors(!), threatened health care workers with violence - the usual stuff. Naturally none of this was proven by the cops, so it's our fault. Yep, we're to blame for someone bailing up a vet in the vet's office. We're to blame for the vet not feeling safe in his clinic anymore. We've been contacted, according to the caller as recently as 2005, but we refuse to lift a finger. The solution? "Animals like that need to be thrown out onto the street!" Yep, you can thunder that, but then you'll be blaming us for not housing those in need. Yeesh! The man on the phone is now about to take the law into his own hands. I hope he likes jail.
Now that was just the late night show. According to the King (I use the term very loosely) of them all we're getting worse by the second. He knows exactly how we operate, despite never having seen any of us at work (he's been offered to come and sit with us for a few hours/days etc etc but always refuses - you see, he's one of those who doesn't need to know how it works in order to claim with authority that it's broken) and he knows where to put the blame - squarely on our shoulders. His highlight of the week was a good old standby - domestic violence.
Now I take DV very seriously. It's evil and insidious. Those who did it are the lowest of the low. Domestic Violence should be punishable by instant prison, no matter the gender. It should be recognised that domestic Violence happens to both females and males alike, however the latter is often ignored - wrong, wrong, wrong. That out of the way let's move on with our pal. He had someone ring who told him a situation where a lady was having the living suitcase beaten out of her on a daily basis. The guy doing it is living in the property without out consent or knowledge as the lady denies he's there. She's never contacted the cops, nor taken out a restraining order (I couldn't help but recite the words to a song in my head as I heard all of this,
'You say when he hits you, you don't mind,
Because when he hurts you, you feel alive,
Hey babe, is that what it is?' - any contact is affection to those who can't differentiate between right and wrong - and those are the ones we need to assist the most) so who is to blame? Oh, come on, you know the answer. It's us! This is despite the admission that the events are happening in a small town where everyone knows each other and are well aware of what's going on behind the closed doors. Call me odd but if I knew that one of my pals was handing out a knuckle sandwich to their significant other then I'd be paying them a visit.
My favourite though was when a senior journalist for a major print outlet put forward their own views on homeless people. According to this journo, one of the best paid in the land, they know what it's like to be homeless because they once did one of those 'spend part of the evening with a homeless guy and drag a photographer around and give the guys some hot food and some cash in lieu of permission and proper consent' stories. You know the ones. They always have a photo of the journo looking rough and shocked at being told to fuck off and get a job. Mind you, some of these journos need to hear those words at least twice a day regardless of what they're doing. Despite recounting a litany of issues, including, but not limited to, sexual and physical abuse, mental illness, starvation, deprivation and more, the homeless are kind of deceptive. You see they dress so well...so they can't be too bad off surely?
I can't wait to sit down with my pal again. He's right, I shouldn't be surprised that we're perceived as being the cause of the woes of the world, but it'd be nice for a fair hearing. Not a positive 'spin', but fairness. But then fairness isn't a word that a lot of the so called 'journalists' are familiar with these days. There's always one of the story - they side they want you to hear, read and see. Anything that might contradict that isn't going to be on the tables at all.
Today's newspaper, tomorrow's fishwrappings.