Mean Media and the Mexico Brave

 

Years ago, I worked in a newsroom where we sold film footage internationally.  It was someone’s job to count the number of dead bodies in a frame. If there were enough stiffs, the foreign TV broadcaster would buy without us needing additional authorisation..

 

Newsroom

Newsroom (Photo credit: charlesdyer)

A few years later, I worked in PR where we arranged facility trips and interviews to sell our client’s products, There was first class travel, lunches in grand restaurants and events where we courted journalists who in return wrote favourable coverage on whatever widget we were promoting.

 

Forever, I’ve been fascinated by the media and how it functions. How we communicate ideas in fiction, fact and with each other. And when I finish the novel I’m currently writing I just may develop an idea along those lines.

 

What currently perplexes and exercises me is that the very same day I read about the dirty dealings as discussed in the Leveson Report, I also read about journalists in Mexico. These brave souls live in fear of their lives, striving to shine an investigative light on the drug barons and the corruption that lets the drug trade flourish.

 

Last week I saw the Hugh Grant documentary Hacked Off. The most chilling moment was when a former News of the World journalist described how he manipulated a drug addict into agreeing to have sex to enhance the story. And she later committed suicide.

 

The journalist admitted he didn’t feel good about what happened, but maintained the right to do so under the banner of freedom of the press.

 

For me this raises the question:  why are British journalists using their great skills to emotionally persecute bereaved parents, manipulate the vulnerable and out consenting adults while in Mexico, journalists are trying to save lives and risking their own.

 

In a moment of societal self-loathing, it occurred to me that we get the press that we deserve.

 

Since this was too depressing a thought, I tried to find a reason why it might not be our fault. However, this notion of it not being our fault, led to an even more appalling idea.

 

What if it’s the fault of the freedom we have? What if it’s simply because we’re lucky enough to live somewhere that’s stable and the news is piffling compared to disappearing people and murders in the thousands?

 

What if great journalism is the result of hardship and conflict, like the blues?

 

Maybe to rediscover the noble soul of British journalism we need to impose draconian laws. Or hope that some organised crime syndicate will destabilise the infrastructure.   How completely bonkers is that? Or is it a starting point for a novel?

 

 

About merlenygate

Writer, script editor
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