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'Follow Your Bliss' - The Tweet That Brought Corporate Journalism To The Brink Of A Nervous Breakthrough


'I have tried trade, but I found that it would take ten years to get under way in that, and that then I should probably be on my way to the devil.'

(Thoreau, 'Walden')



Noam Chomsky once emailed us:

'Am really impressed with what you are doing, though it's like trying to move a ten-ton truck with a toothpick. They're not going to allow themselves to be exposed.' (Chomsky, email to Media Lens, September 14, 2005)

These were kind words from Chomsky. But in fact, 'they' - corporate journalists - often do an excellent job of exposing themselves.

Consider that, last week, one of us happened to notice this on Twitter:

'Under 27? Want to spend a year writing about politics for The Observer, @NewStatesman and @thetimes? Anthony Howard Award 2018 is now open: http://anthonyhowardaward.org.uk . It gave @LOS_Fisher @ashcowburn @patrickkmaguire @Dulcie_Lee and me our starts in Westminster. Apply!'

We responded:

'Forget it. Don't write for the "mainstream". Don't write for money. Don't write for prestige. Just "follow your bliss" by writing what you absolutely love to write to inspire and enlighten other people. Write what seems interesting, important and true, and give it away for free.'

The tweet quickly picked up 15 retweets and 40 likes. At first, nobody expressed strong feelings about it. But then, a clutch of corporate journalists and writers decided to scandalise what we had sent, generating a kind of 'mainstream' feeding frenzy. Emma Kennedy, actress, author of ten books, tweeted graciously:

'This is total bollocks. If you want to be a writer know this: you have a value and you ALWAYS deserve to be paid. Go fuck yourself Media Lens.'

Stephen Buranyi, who writes longreads for the Guardian, mimed:

'**does the jackoff motion so hard I glide across the floor like an unbalanced washing machine**'

Patrick Sawer, senior reporter at The Telegraph:

'Tell that to anyone trying to stage a play, paint a canvas, put together a film, get a book published. What arrant nonsense to pretend, for the sake of "purity" that the market economy doesn't exist.'

Kate Hind, Mail on Sunday Showbiz Editor, chipped in:

'I think this lot are in on the wind up'

Pressgirl wrote:

'I've worked as a journo for more than 30 years and only those with wealthy partners can afford to potter about doing what they fancy. Most have to do the grunt work of covering courts, sports, disasters and getting their hands dirty.'

Everyone seemed to find their own meaning, and outrage, in the tweet. Editor Wendy Rosenfield:

'This is literally the worst advice for writers. Write for yourself, on your own blog, or to promote your own work for free. Charge everyone else. It's work. It has value and deserves compensation.'

Ian Craig, a politics reporter:

'Abhorrent. I hope you apologise for this.'

Helen Black, a novelist, foresaw dark consequences:

'Have you got any idea how unattainable a career in the media/arts feels to millions of working class people? A tweet like this only serves to feed class division.'

Before long, the outrage went global. From New York:

'This is awful advice. Truly, truly awful.'

From Spain:

'Snobismo moralista de pacotilla...'

We got the gist from the first two words.

Even Owen Jones of the Guardian, normally a stickler for ignoring us, replied:

'The corporate media needs to be relentlessly critiqued. And that includes its dependence on unpaid/underpaid labour which is a) exploitative and b) turns journalism into a closed shop for the privileged. Which you helped justify.'

He added:

'And yes, sure, there'll be those using your stupid statement opportunistically because you more generally critique corporate media practices. That doesn't mean you're vindicated in giving pseudo radical cover to unpaid media labour.'

We replied:

'It's not possible for us to have "helped justify" corporate media exploitation and privilege when the first line of our tweet read: "Forget it. Don't write for the "mainstream".'

Jones has previously revealed that he is 'barred' from criticising his colleagues. With this in mind, we added:

'There's also a problem with corporate media requiring that young journalists refrain from criticising their colleagues, their company, their advertisers, their owners, "the industry". But that's not something you're willing or able to talk about, is it?'

Jones resumed his policy of ignoring us.

The New Statesman published an entire article on our tweet, titled:

'Telling journalists to "follow your bliss" by writing for free is as anti-socialist as you can get'

Abuse poured in liberally:

'You sound like a privileged twat here. Just saying.'

'Fucking new age wanky twaddle. Fuck off'

'Go stuff your bliss up your arse'

'Fuck you. Pay people.'

'You sound retarded.'

And so on, with the above representing only a small sample...

Read more: 'Follow Your Bliss' - The Tweet That Brought Corporate Journalism To The Brink Of A Nervous...

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