by Kate Forrester
LAZY. Incompetent. Biased. Scum. Parasite.
As a working journalist, I have been called all of the above at least once (but not all at the same time, usually). And I haven’t really done anything more controversial than sit in magistrates’ court and fill a single column downpage with the tale of a drunken teenager who nicked a packet of Rich Tea from the Co-op in Wrexham.
I haven’t, for instance, happily contributed to or actively encouraged the ruination of a 25-year-old man’s career based on nothing more than a questionable ruling that very few in the national media have actually bothered to question.
It’s far easier, you see, to skim read a report from a professional body and just regurgitate quotes from it. Repeatedly. Even adapt them, if you fancy it. No-one’s really going to mind, are they?
It’s not like he’s our own brave, resolute, English JT. He’s not a national treasure.
I have always been a great defender of journalists in general. This is because I know the vast majority of us work hard, for not much money, and spend a great deal of time taking flak from the general public.
A lot of it is harsh and can be pretty cutting, particularly when many personal criticisms reach you via a website comment box, with no name attributed. Sometimes we deserve all we get, because we do make mistakes. When everything you do is very much in the public domain, you have to accept you are fair game and develop a thick skin.
But hearing people – most painfully, LFC fans – say things like: “All journos are parasites” is hard for me to swallow. Firstly, I fucking hate the term ‘journo’, but that’s just because I’m a picky little nark. Secondly, my instinct is to defend the profession I love, but for the first time ever I find I can’t.
I never thought I would become one of those people who refuses to buy a paper (the S*n aside, of course). I previously very much enjoyed my Saturday Guardian, a broadsheet I imagined would always be aligned with my general outlook on life.
Not so. In recent weeks, the paper’s absolutely woeful, shockingly biased (there’s another phrase I never thought I would use) coverage of the whole Suarez affair has had me frothing with rage much more than the Mail, everyone’s favourite foe, ever has.
At least you can attempt to laugh at rags known for their hysteria, but there are no Littlejohns at the Guardian. Allegedly. Just an astounding number of clearly anti-Liverpool writers, whose venom towards the club I have supported since I was a tiny child truly distresses me.
I cannot and will not spend my hard-earned regional news reporter’s pennies on endorsing thinly-veiled (unveiled?) attacks on our club and our city by people who have the audacity to claim they are objective.
Despite all this, we should not forget why journalism is important and why we don’t all deserve to be tarred with the same brush of moral outrage.
There is a spoof Twitter account called @SkyNewsFeed, which a few days ago claimed Luis Suarez had handed in a transfer request (provoking some amazingly moronic/xenophobic comments from its more gullible followers).
We need real journalists to verify information like this and to tell us the real story, whether it concerns the future of a witch-hunted Premier League striker or a planning application to build a block of flats on a patch of waste ground in L4.
The root of our profession is supposed to be to get at the truth and be the eyes and ears of the public.
And if all of us do our jobs as we should, the residents of Walton Breck Road will know what’s going on outside their front door, our football club will have a chance to recover from the incessant blows that have rained down on it and we may just develop a level of public discourse which can help find solutions to wide-ranging problems that go beyond the hounding of individuals.