Musings from the padded room

söndag 20 februari 2011

Recycled renewal

First of all, I won't lie to you when I warn you that there might be a slight flavour of bitterness in this post. Just consider yourself duly warned.

I feel like I often stumble upon the word "renewal" when I read employment ads, business descriptions and the likes. The word isn't always spelled out but there nonetheless, in between the lines. It's made me wonder. Being an unemployed journalist I often find myself reflecting over journalism in general, trends within the area and currents conditions on the employment market.

This is just my personal opinion but to me it feels like the word "renewal" has taken on a slightly different meaning than the word should have where journalism is concerned. Considering the difficulties for young, "green" journalists to land a steady job, or being noticed by the more or less institutionalised news desks in the first place, I can't help but feel sad. I've, on more than one occasion, half-jokingly said that journalists are the only ones who never truly retire. It seems to me that the older you are, the more attractive you'll get where media is concerned. I am fully aware that it often comes down to the whole experience and social connections/networking thing. When you're older you're more likely to have more connections to draw on for a story. However, since the young journalists are so seldom given the chance to get into the business to learn they are also inadvertently prohibited from creating those important connections. And in the end the established, "experienced" journalists more or less just does a side-step between the news desks, wildly heralded that they'll bring new ideas to their work place, while the new, fresh journalists stand outside, looking in and hoping against hope that they'd at least get paid for whatever freelance article they've managed to create.

Within established Swedish media "Renewal" seems to, disturbingly enough, have become a new synonym for "recycling". The established journalists are recycled or the news desks just cling on to their aging, "experienced" work force. The thing is, I often happen upon articles brimming with such a sense of blasé weariness, kind of like "Yeah. I wrote about that same thing, just with another company, last year. I can probably use the same style in the text today", it just makes me want to shake my head. There's no sense of urgency, desire for action or interest for new angles. It all just rolls on in a never-ending hamster wheel where the same old texts, wordings and angles are recycled over and over. Where's the "renewal" in that?

Which brings me to another pondering I've had in the dark hours of the night. During my studies in journalism we were once told that journalism was often considered a reflection of reality. And maybe it is although, looking at the articles published on the web or in established, printed media, I get the feeling that reality is more and more being reflected through a tinted glass. Once upon a time journalists were the nightmares haunting the minds of corrupt politicians and corporations all over the world. The journalists could, with one skilfully and timely placed wording, overthrow plans that had taken years to concoct. And the journalists thrived on that. The public knew where to turn in order to find out what was going on behind the polished doors of government buildings and corporate conference rooms. Lately, though, media seems to have been domesticated, tamed. Instead of pushing ahead, digging into archives, protocols and anonymous tips the journalists seem to spend more and more time reporting on the obvious. They seem too afraid (or too tired by the sick workload caused by "potentiating", forcing less people to do more work) of the powers that be, the government, the corporations practically owning the established news media of today, to actually dare to stick their chins out and write about what they're really seeing, or instinctively sensing.

On another note, a reflection can never be reality. I think we all know that already. If you're facing a mirror and raise your left hand, your brain tells you that the hand being raised by the reflection is also a left hand. However, had the reflection been another person instead, that left hand would've in all actuality have been their right hand. In order for it to be a true reflection you would have to stand with your back against the mirror and still somehow be reflected from the front. Otherwise it's merely a case of your brain supplying the answer where the mirror is messing with your perception. So what does this mean? Somehow I can't help but draw parallels to the philosophical tree in the forest. If a tree falls in the forest but no one's there to listen, does it still make a sound? If a mirror is reflecting something but no one is there to see it, or doesn't have the brain to supply the information of that skewed image, is it still reflecting reality?

And with that I'll end this rather fragmented ramble before my brain decides to fool me into thinking I'm seeing things I'm not. I'll leave you with a quote I found in one of the books I've read lately:

"[...]Even the clearest mirror reverses right to left" - from the book The Door Into Fire by author Diane Duane

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