Hey, you’re a journalist! You can go around saying WHATEVER you want – as long as it’s the truth. Who CARES if you piss anyone off? You’re just doing your job!! Right? Wrong. Journalism is all about relationships.
Imagine this: you work for a magazine/newspaper that’s yes, funded by readers buying it (although ever decreasingly so), but primarily – your salary is paid for by advertisers. Big powerful companies who control artists you might interview, products you might review, or have news that you may report on. So you interview that artist, review that product, or report that news at whatever angle you chose to take. The angle you take happens to make a fool of the artist, criticizes the product, or unveils some inside information that shows up the company for their immoral ways. And BAM, big fat £££££’s of advertising pulled, relationship severed and you can kiss goodbye to your Christmas bonus.
Here’s a couple of stories for you:
One journo was once telephoned by the UK chief of a large Swiss watch conglomerate – threatening to withdraw several million quid of advertising – after printing something that displeased him. Turns out with wristwatches, the makers have such control that they expect to be able to nominate the journalists who write about their products.
Or the local newspaper employee who considered running a story about an estate agents that was unflattering in a minor way. The paper holds the advertising for all of the local houses for sale and if the advertising was lost, the newpaper would go under. Needless to say, the story got spiked.
However, it doesn’t just stop at advertisers. Social networking has brought what previously were private conversations in the pub, or texts between friends into the public eye. And it’s very easy to forget that the tweet you just sent, can be read by anyone.
What about the throwaway comment, calling out the demise in quality of a particular publication for example – its editor happens to stumble across it. What happens if somewhere down the line, you want to pitch an article, or apply for a job at said publication? Or even another one that the same editor has now gone on to work at? If they remember your name (they will), chances are you won’t get a look in. Or fancy having an online rant about how ANGRY you are because a sub has edited your work and you don’t like it? Sub sees it: relationships in the office are strained (and they don’t do you any favours when editing your copy in future). Editor sees it: you look extremely unprofessional and immature. Managing Director sees it: you face a potential sacking for defamation.
Sometimes it’s just not worth it. Think before you print.