LIKE everyone, they wake up whether they like it or not.
Maybe in their dreams, everyone tells the truth so there is no problem. But everyone knows what happened in Pleasantville which should be the case.
When a fact-finder wakes up, they need to know what’s happening to the world. It’s not FOMO. There’s no fear, it’s the vocation.
But not like before, it’s not the usual news universe they are more concerned about now. It’s the alternate universes. It’s the so-called alt-groups they used to perceive as only for perverts and the bored.
They have to join all the focus and unfocused groups of all the presidential candidates. They have to be lurkers and resist the temptation of fact-checking them right there and then.
They have to be silent observers, silently taking notes while blending in with the crowd.
It’s like being Hunter Thompson, Norman Mailer and P.J. O’Rourke or whoever Rolling Stone chose to assign. Except it’s the other way around, instead of the Gonzo Journalist covering the polyester and plaid crowd, it’s the decent (naks!) journalist in a gonzo expletive-addicted crowd.
But don’t get them wrong. These are still the hard-drinking, hard-driven journalists; but now they are back to the ideal role of the knight in shining armor.
For different reasons, hundreds of newspapers in the U.S. closed down at the turn of the millennium. Not really a worldwide phenomenon but some of the newspapers in the other places also closed down as well.
The Internet was seen as one of those that killed the print media. But then while some newspapers closed down, other forms of media sprouted. So we have the blogs and all those etceteras.
Print media writers are snobs and many of them eventually became fact-checkers. Their bible is The Elements of Journalism by Bill Kovach and Tom Resenstiel.
This is one book which persuaded journalists to stay on in their jobs despite the layoffs and the lucrative corporate alternatives.
It tells us that there is a higher calling for journalists. That is why they began calling journalism a priesthood. It’s a vow of poverty but it has a higher calling.
So they tried to distinguish themselves from the so-called bloggers and influencers. No longer are the latter the ones they call the pinabili ng suka at bumalik na journalists. They even drank the suka that’s why they became the cursing know-it-alls.
The so-called proper journalists began calling their priesthood the journalism of verification to distinguish themselves from those who publish and then collect and those who publish and then wait for the car wreck.
They unknowingly began preparing for the war against the trolls that followed years later. The Philippines, weirdly, became the first battleground.
They came for the youth and pestered them with misinformation. The media were not prepared for that war and lost every battle.
Now they are more prepared. They armed themselves with the same journalist instinct they honed. They put on their bullshit detector and sniffed the fake news. They used the same cynicism, wit, persistence, patience and thirst for blood that they cultivated along the way.
So they tried to guide their own way into the dark web and looked for the enemy.
Slowly as they woke up, they started noting the fake news and looked for ways to debunk them. They have learned their lessons. They have a new mission.
They start typing.
And this is even before they have their first cup of coffee.
Baguio Chronicle
April 2, 2022