It is beginning to worry us in the journalism profession that the press gets bad press. Without beating the bush around, it would be fair to assert that in certain quarters the media has, ummm, a public relations problem. Or to put it more politely: people hate our guts.
Even if we live in an age of alternative truth, it is factually incorrect to call us presstitutes, or to state that we are self-important mercenaries, holier-than-thou hypocrites, annoyingly preachy, morally repugnant nosey parkers, arrogant hacks who hunt in packs, and smug skunks. Actually, we are much worse. And if you have any problems with that, well, tough luck.
Blaming the messenger is not new. The Right Honourable Genghis Khan was known for his draconian Media Council Bill which allowed his junta to legally hang reporters up by their own petard at strategic points along the Belt Roadway to Kashgar.
We have, of course, moved away from such crude and ruthless methods of controlling information. Today, our rulers are governed by international covenants such as the Universal Declaration of Humane Rights and its Article 11 which states, inter alia: ‘Every citizen has the right to freedom of expression, but no freedom after expression. Citizens can propagate and believe in fake news without let or hindrance and regardless of class, caste or creed. Media has the inalienable right to impart gossip, innuendo and cat videos to an unsuspecting public.’
Modern newspersons today exercise much greater self-confidence, self-esteem and self-censorship. The Ministry of Dictation and Doublespeak has made it abundantly crystal-clear that journalists must report verbatim on official pronouncements, even when they bend the truth a bit.
This rule will henceforth be strictly enforced so that if any domestic or international hack is caught red-handed spreading the truth during a national crisis, they could have their Media License revoked. The Minister of Misinformation and Communicable Diseases now requires journalists to acquire a license to lie, which must be renewed every calendar year after passing a written exam.
They will have the option of applying for a Smart License, for which there will be tougher questions like: ‘Do editors have a heart? If so, prove it.”
Journalists can also opt for a Not-So-Smart License, which allows reporters special privileges like writing under the influence of the ruling party.
Interns can avail themselves of a Learner’s License that allows them to learn on-the-job to make things up.