Journalists are not here to please anybody. This is one of the most important and eye-opening phrases Bob Woodward says in his Masterclass. Bob Woodward is the investigative reporter who wrote about the famous Watergate scandal.
His online course with Masterclass is like listening to the journalism teacher I have never had. He is so clear in his points, he gives examples from his own work and he speaks the truth about journalism just as every journalist should speak the truth about his stories. You can see the passion in his eyes, the love for his craft in every word that he says and the sparkle of “a man who’s seen more than he should’ve seen” on his face.
Bob Woodward might be a superstar journalist, but here on the ground, things are not easy. They never were. Even when Woodward was my age, writing the stories of his life, he faced the same challenges as many of us in the media, especially when investigating a case, do today. It’s all the same because people still think journalist are here to make them happy about the stories they are writing about. This is false.
My journalism story
I studied journalism on my own, through online classes and a lot of practice. I once wanted to go to journalism school, but it was too far from where I was already working. I opted for money instead of school and decided to self-learn everything. I started working in the media when I was 17.
I remember working for 50 lei per week back then at a local paper. 50 lei or 10 bucks wasn’t even enough money for gas, so my mom would give me money to put gas in my old car so that I could reach the places where I needed to be for my stories.
I’ve come a long way from those days. I have my own freelancing business and still work as a journalist at the most important news publication in my city. On good days, we reach 10.000 people, while the entire city has 40.000 inhabitants. Basically, everybody reads our stories.
And the truth is, besides the struggles I’ve had to face as a young journalist regarding money, the other part of the business, the actual journalistic work, is almost entirely the same. As in, people still see us as a group of individuals who are writing positively just about the highest bidder. When in fact, things are simply on the other part of the truth.
Independent journalists in 2019
I am an independent journalist. This means I have no contracts with people in power, political parties, or their companies. None. I am 100% paying myself through ads and banners on my website, ads and banners coming from large companies that are non-political. Independence goes even a step further: if one of these companies do something wrong, and it’s newsworthy, we’re getting the story published on the site 100%.
Journalism in 2019 is simply a medium of transmitting a message. We journalists are not here to make you happy. At least independent journalists, if I’m to be totally clear. On the contrary. We are here to make you miserable. To make you cry. To scare you, infuriate you, even terrorize you or mentally burn you. But we’re not here because that’s what we like to do. We’re here because that’s how the truth works.
The truth is uncomfortable, scary, shocking, unpleasant and brutal.
It’s our job to give the people the truth, no matter how ugly it is. We’re telling the truth as it is, which is surely something that people, both those who the articles are about and those who are reading the articles, find extremely unsettling. And sure, it’s fine to throw swear words towards journalists. The truth is hard to swallow. But it’s just another job that we “lucky” people get to do.
No hard feelings.