Journalism Dies in Darkness

I can honestly say, I am in tune with what’s happening in the world more than others. And I take it to heart. All of it. Perhaps too much. Even if it doesn’t hurt me personally, it still gets to me. The unfairness. The injustice. The untold misery.

Today, I learned via J-Source, an independent journalism advocate for journalism programs and journalists in general, that TorStar, the once gleaming pyramid of Canada’s journalism, swiftly cut more than 100 jobs today. Like the Grim Reaper swiping the next victim, the news came to unfortunate newsrooms of StarMetro, a nation-wide free daily commuter paper. From Ontario to the West Coast in Vancouver, the cuts shredded and rippled through the already-near-cold corpse of Canada’s newspaper industry.

This French poster effectively depicts the sweep of closures and overall visceral death to journalism across Canada. (Le Petit Journal, Biblioteque Nationale de France)

Of course, comes the obvious question: “what do you fucking care? You don’t know those people.”

No, I don’t. But I was once one of them. A young, optimistic journalist willing to get out there and get some good, honest-to-god news. In my time as a reporter, I fought hard to carry on the teachings of my professors, of veteran journalists. Be fair. Be honest. Be human. Honestly, I did my best. I didn’t write big Pulizer-prize-worthy pieces, nor was I the best in the class. But damnit I tried. And my stories were cherished and loved by the community I was in. Integrity, my word, was all I had; and frankly all a journalist has. Even on the day the newspaper kicked my ass out onto the doorstep, I still held – and hold – on to those values.

So when I see other journalists – good, honest people trying just do their jobs, get shit-kicked into the street like they never even existed, it cuts me deep. Because even as I write this, they’re probably asking themselves, ‘why the fuck did I do this and not something like an accountant or a clerk for the government.’ The answer to that is simple. Because not all of us want to become fucking drones, wafting through life for 30-something years and then wake up 60 and retire to some desolate corner of the world. Some of us want to live, and that’s what journalism is about; you’re making a difference for society (at least, you should) and in turn that gives you purpose. At least, that’s what kept me in journalism for 10 years – which isn’t even that much.

Today, people who’ve dedicated most of their professional careers to journalism, were let go. Imagine how they feel. I’m like an inkblot on what is shaping up to the Requiem of journalism in Canada. One final gasp, one quick and unforgettable death.

The once-gleaming tower of the Toronto Star on One Yonge St. in Toronto. It was the place all we young journalists once dreamed to be in. Now, it’s a symbol of pain, of greed and of loss. (Photo – THE CANADIAN PRESS/Eduardo Lima)

In my last piece regarding journalism, I skirted the very core of the problem of why newspapers are rapidly falling into extinction, starting with corporate greed, internal corruption of objective journalism, and, finally, journalistic malpractice. Put all three of those pointy heads together and there is no real governing body to regulate any of it. No one to say, hey assholes, Canadian journalists are fucking underpaid and overworked nation-wide, this isn’t normal, or hey, many newspaper chains are controlled by money-hungry, dickhead businessmen who only care about the bottom line. Or, HEY, why are newspapers filled with advertising and sales people, while editorial staff is cut down and treated like lepers? Few, if any, ask these hard, but critical questions.

Well, too fucking late anyway. Because among those laid off includes newspaper staff of all kinds, including sales people. That’s the part that’s hard to explain to people who haven’t been in the shit. The degradation, erosion, and subsequent destruction of journalists, i.e, reporters, editors, across the world, affects us all. Who is going to tell you that your local politician is going on cruises and buying vacation homes in Spain with your money? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Where anyone, from a lamp to a rock, can pretend to be a goddamn journalist? Give me a fucking break. Without professional, investigative journalists (who even lay their lives on the line) Canada, and indeed the world, is going to be driving blindly under corruption, unbeknownst to all the perils and unjust things that await us all. The world needs journalists, and the less of them we have, the less transparent, the less visible, does our world become; just as those who like things hidden in the dark would prefer.

So yeah, it fucking pisses me off. Those 121 weren’t my personal colleagues, but damnit I feel like they were. I feel like I was in that newsroom with them when the announcement came, and just before the holidays nonetheless.

Today, I want you to mourn those people like they fucking died. Because one thing did die with them, and that’s journalism. That’s not to say they were all honest, all integral and all good at what they did, but journalism in itself is not something that’s easy to get into; not something for everyone; you need to care about the world you live in to become a journalist; you need to pay attention to those around you, to yourself, and truly think about making a difference. Today, a little more of that dies away, and for what, for some shady old businessman to save a few bucks? For capitalism?

At the end of the day, and I mean, at the end of the day, it’s not about money. It just. Fucking. Isn’t. It’s about people. It’s always about people. Without people, you have nothing. No journalism, and no fucking money, either.

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