Yesterday I wrote this, which was probably the biggest story I’ve done so far in the BBC. Mostly I work on quite low key stuff, so it was interesting to be writing the background to a guilty verdict in a murder trial, with very little time to pause for breath.
The way the law works in journalism makes me feel strange, morally. When someone is on trial, of course everything is neutral and careful (at least in the BBC) and they’re innocent until proven guilty. Then when someone is found guilty, they’re automatically a murderer and a killer.
It’s not that I have no faith in the courts, I hope they get these things right, and they’re obviously meticulous. It’s more how sudden the change is and how there’s this outpouring of “story” as soon as someone’s found guilty. Like everyone is waiting just to wheel out the societal reaction to a gruesome death.
That’s the other thing about working in news, I’ve never felt like such a cog in “society” before. Everything you do feels like breathing out normality, reality, the world as it is currently seen. Everything you write is centred on what people as an amorphous mass believe. It’s a really strange feeling. No matter how much you try and escape it, the more nuance and bias you remove the more things seem biased towards peoples natural preconceptions.
It’s strange how the raw truth can feel tainted by the lack of interpretation you put on it. Maybe I’m just cynical. Watch the TV news tonight (especially a local news bulletin) and then ask yourself this: how many stories start from the point of total ignorance, of total lack of interest or enthusiasm for anything? Every story seems to say “Look at this person, doing something which is odd to me the journalist”.
But everything is odd to the news journalist because the average news journalist is culturally clueless! Just witness how badly they handle stories about “EMOS” or rap music! It’s very frustrating.
All of the above leaves me considering other careers, or trying to do something a little different within my current one. It’s been good to work in news to learn this I guess. It’s early to give up anything totally, but I do think it takes a particular type of person to be a news journalist, one that I’m not.