The Press

The press used to have so much power that people tremble at the sound of the word. As if it were some bad juju, like blurting out Voldemort. They have the attention of countries across the world and have the power to influence people’s thoughts. And you know it’s true! I’m a dumb person and I know it’s true. It’s such a great responsibility to become journalists.

And it is a power that is easily abused. I’ve not been a journalist long. Five years and counting. I can’t speak for the experiences of others, especially the veterans who have devoted their lives reporting. But in my case, you do feel you have that kind of power. I’ve been pulled over at least three fives by traffic enforcers and upon seeing my reporter’s ID hanging around my rear view mirror, they dismiss me without checking my license. While riding with my boss, he was able to take an illegal left turn, and my other boss ran a red light, and the police didn’t bother to come after us.

I’m a technology reporter. I never tried to abuse my status over others. It would be a great disrespect to the profession. I hear stories about beat reporters going out to find stories on their own, with strict deadlines. There are quotas as well that must be met, a certain number of articles that must be submitted before 2pm–2pm because that is the time where editors gather around in a tiny circle and discuss among themselves what articles they are going to use–whether or not it will be published. And it has to be considered “good” articles, so you can’t just pick some random stuff in police reporters.

These days, how our paper runs, reporters are urged to seek out more interesting stories. Oh, standard reporting remains. Politics and business. Other stories, drama is needed. For instance, I read a slug about a drug bust and it turned out, one of the drug dealers was the son of the officer in charge of the entire operation. That’s some drama shit. I can’t confirm its authenticity though and I don’t know if it was even published.

In any case, I have great respect for field reporters. They seek out stories, charm the right people, gather information, in span of hours, to write a comprehensive article that would/might engage readers. They go into battle zones to document the events that unfold. They go to dark places and talk to dangerous people. They put their own lives at risk. In case you haven’t heard, journalists in Mexico have a low chance of survival.

It’s scary shit, alright. Far as I know, it’s not common for reporters to get shot in this country. But still scary.

As I was told, once a story is done and over, the reporter rushes back to the office, sits in their desk, and demolishes the typewriter in minutes. Can you hear the typewriter sound? Chik-chik-chik-chik-chak-chik-chak-DING! Beautiful.

The video above doesn’t even do justice to what older typewriters can make. Anyway, desperate cases, which I was led to believe, stories were dictated over the phone. These days you just got to find the nearest Starbucks, get yourself a Java Chip venti, and get their Wi-Fi.

But you know, there are good journalists, and there are bad journalists, those with no ethical standards. Maybe they had, once upon a time, when they were starting out, believing that they are being the eyes of the public, the watchdog of the fourth estate. And yet, when an article is published, usually political, these journalists or the paper itself is harassed and being called out for bias reporting, while these people themselves do not see their own biases.

I’m edging too far from my original point of thought. The media has a lot of power. They know it. The public knows it. It’s a scary thing.

Again, I’m a technology journalist. I don’t go out and seek stories. I get invited to events, sometimes fancy ones where everyone lady wore a dress and men in coats. I’m lent smartphones and gauge it, if it’s worth anyone’s time, and once in a while I do get bashed and called out. Writers do develop thick skins. It’s a necessary survival skill. It’s the first thing any writer should learn. That, with charm, patience, and perseverance.

In short, I’m a little bit pampered at my job. I do my best to meet people halfway, because as a journalist I don’t want to shove people around. The pay is really shit though. And benefits have been cut out, in response to declining newspaper sales.

So, to finally get across what I’m getting at: It baffles me in a way that I stare at a killer clown swinging a big-ass ax onto my face, lodging it deep into my skull, and drag my twitching corpse around, that some technology reporters have the balls to complain.

I have met some reporters and some bloggers who, unsatisfied with the event they have just attended or crashed in uninvited, to flail like a spoiled child at event organizers and public relations agents about: “The food sucks,” “Why didn’t you arrange my parking?” “Oh, you’d have me fall in line the buffer?” “I know I arrived late but I expected to have my meal ready,” “Don’t you know who I am?” “Why does he/she get a loot bag, where’s mine?” Those are direct quotes, among a few more.

It’s rather disgusting to hear those words so senselessly blurted out. It disrespects the profession. None of us are getting shot at. None of us interview grieving family members, which is, I imagined, a near-impossible task to do. None of the hardcore stuff that field reporters do. As technology journalists, we’re blessed.

A field reporter once came to the office to ask for help in some of his devices, asked how long was I in the field, before being assigned to a specialty area, which in my case, technology. A modicum of shame streaked my face when I told him none, that this was my first job, and it was where I was assigned on the spot. And yeah, he was vocal about his opinions that I should consider myself lucky then. They’re going through hell everyday.

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