John Hardin / @ 6:40 a.m. / Op-Ed

HARDIN: Anti-Journalism


Every week I rack my brain for an idea to write about, ideally, one that requires no research, phone calls, interviews, or leaving home.  If it weren’t for the research, phone calls, interviews and driving, I might have pursued a career in journalism. Not because of any burning desire to expose corruption, or inform the public on issues that matter in their lives, but mainly for the paycheck. I coulda used the dough. Now that I’ve seen what has become of journalism, I’m glad I didn’t make the effort.

Not that I think I would do any better. I’m sure that as soon as I discovered that I could cut and paste whole paragraphs from a corporate press release into a story with my byline, I’d be the first one out of the office door on Friday afternoon. Still, I don’t think I could cut it. Journalists have to confine themselves to the facts, and adhere to “journalistic ethics.” That would get old fast.

These ridiculous restrictions castrate the truth and hamstring creativity. That’s why: if you want to know the truth about the human experience, you don’t look in the newspaper, you look under “fiction,” at your library. If you want to know anything else, google it. Journalists tell you stuff you didn’t want to know in the first place, in a way that doesn’t make any sense. That’s what you get when you focus on facts, an endless timeline of meaningless events, devoid of context and drained of perspective. Journalism announces everything, but reveals nothing.

You’ll find journalism everywhere you look: in your home, on your TV, radio and computer, on your phone, stacked up in front of the grocery store, laying on your cafe table, underfoot, blowing down the street, in the trash. Journalism is as disposable as, well, yesterday’s news, but its ubiquity is its power, and its power is considerable.

Journalism and advertising work hand in hand, and you rarely see one without the other. Together they distort reality for the purpose of economic exploitation. Journalists lie even more than the people who write advertising copy, and the biggest lie that journalists tell, is the one that convinces us that facts are objective. Objective reality is the biggest lie ever constructed, and journalists promulgate it every time they file a story.

Media moguls understand this. That’s why they spend so much money on disposable, hack, writing. They don’t care about the truth, and even if they did, they have no interest in sharing it with the general public. Instead, they want everyone to believe the same lie, because that lie motivates people to get up and go to work every day, so they can buy the useless products their advertisers sell. Journalism is the process by which media moguls replace your thoughts with their narrative, and their agenda.

I prefer to think my own thoughts, and write my own truth. You can call my writing “anti-journalism,” because I don’t care what happens in the “real world,” what I think is all that matters. Nobody reads this column because they want the facts. You read this column because you recognize the truth in it, and the rest of it isn’t too boring.

Today, it’s not enough to report the day’s events and call it “the news.” We need new ideas, new ways of thinking and a fresh perspective, and journalism won’t take us there. It’s going to take more than journalism. It’s going to take imagination, intelligence and sensitivity to build a better culture. Journalism blinds the imagination, hamstrings the intelligence and desensitizes humanity to the complexity and subtlety of the human experience with a bland disembodied narrative that lacks grace and annihilates beauty.

Journalists tell us what to think and how to think about it. They narrow minds and promote conformity. Today, with our long, proud history of a free press, look at us. Can we get any dumber? Reading the papers (or the websites), won’t make you any smarter. Instead, journalism promotes a very special kind of stupidity, and this stupidity threatens us all. Take it from me; I’m not a journalist.


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