I’ve worked as a journalist for most of my working life. Most of that time has been spent with the mainstream media, in broadcast newsrooms or productions. I have spent very little time working with or for Indigenous publications and broadcasters, unfortunately. The few times that I did often ended in disaster. I blame the mindset in these places – not the individuals. They were often inhabited by really nice people, but also people with a horribly misguided sense of purpose and few to inspire them.
So often, they felt it their duty to tip the scales or act as advocates, representatives, spokespeople and cheerleaders for Indigenous politicians. In other words, they were propagandists.
Other times, they wanted to be opinion shapers or pundits but lacked the depth, clarity of mind, experience or intellect to pull it off.
Often, a lot more often than I care to think, they wanted to be celebrities; to be somebodies on TV or the radio but without paying the dues.
Rarely, once in a while, I came across people who cared about the profession of journalism, wanted to tell good stories well, and to make a difference in peoples’ lives. Perhaps if I had met a few more people like this last group, I might still be trying to work in Indigenous journalism.
The worst part isn’t the disappointment I felt that there weren’t more good people trying to be Indigenous journalists. Or the disappointment that comes from straining to keep the mainstream door of opportunity open for so long and for such meagre results. No, the worst part is that so many good Indigenous people chose to avoid the profession altogether.
They prefered to work in politics, at band councils, for relatively well-paying organizations as hacks, writing news releases, and putting up with know-it-all politicos who have such disdain for anyone with an independent thought that they revile anyone who even used to be a journalist. These are the people that really get my blood boiling. Because they knew better.
Yet they abandoned the field to others who care not a whit for fairness, accuracy and balance. In their places, they have allowed in shameless ideological flacks who seem to dominate the few and shrinking number of Indigenous newsrooms these days. They are filled with such self-loathing that it seems they want to destroy all that is Indigenous in this country.
Meanwhile, the rest of those in the Indigenous media continue to shovel out mindless, meaningless crap. They want to be loved instead of respected, invited to tea instead of feared, prefer to be treated like a servile dog than a feisty champion for the poor and victimized.
Then again, maybe it’s just January and the lack of sun.