Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Media: The whispering click of a key

First published in Mike Hitchen Unleashed 21 June 2011

By © Mike Hitchen

Back in the 90s I began research on a book about the early days of boxing in Sydney - but this post is not about boxing - it's about change, especially in the media.

Each day I would visit the NSW State Library and travel into the past. Hard copies of old newspapers, old magazines, pamphlets and microfilmed copies of long ceased publications, made up the essential components of my Time Machine. Interest and imagination made up the rest.

Sitting in a semi-darkened booth for hours each day made it easy to travel back in time. I became involved with the stories, with the people, with the journalists, editors and media barons. For a few hours each day, I was in a different era.

Often, I was able to follow stories for literally decades. A small paragraph would become a story, then headline news, and every few years the story would rear it's head once more. For example, I once read a small article about a murder. As more information came to hand, that small article became headline news for weeks. Every few years the story would crop up again, until eventually, thirty or so years later, I read about the convicted mans release. A man, a victim and a crime, long forgotten.

I became familiar with the journalists. Hard looking men with chins that seemed to have been chiseled out of granite by a short-sighted, first-day-on-the job, sculptor. Sometimes I was able to pick up copies of their biographies or autobiographies. They all seemed to be called, "Bill" "Tom" or "Harry"

Their articles were well researched, their tools were their pencils, their notebooks - but more importantly - their instinct and determination to get to the bottom of a story come hell or high water. Publish and be damned and often they were - but more often than not they were right.

The old boxers and promoters I researched are all long gone, so too are the journalists - and with them died true journalism and integrity in the media.

Gone are those who fight for a story because they believe in it, replaced by those who attend editorial meetings to be told what their opinion will be that day, and more importantly, who not to upset and who to screw.

A lead pencil is a simple communication tool, but produced so much more than is now produced on a state of the art laptop.

Truth does not need fine words with proper punctuation, grammar and use of big words. It just needs to be told by those with the integrity, determination and guts to do it. When those three virtues speak as one, then Truth is heard loud and clear.

Far louder than the whispering click of a key.