10 Feb 2015

I’m a journalist because I’m angry – you should be too

I got interested in this blog. Then I got angry. Then I got bored.

Bored because this is not about journalism at all – it’s about money.

If anyone ever approached me about wanting to become a journalist for the money of course I would show them the door. Try getting all those A* grades then going for your interview at medical school and patiently explaining you want to become a doctor because consultants get more than £150 grand a year  – and see how far you get.

The door, again. Different door I grant you, but for the same good reason.

People should become doctors because they want to cure sick other people. People should want to be journalists because of anger. And when I see anger I give real encouragement.

And guess what – they actually do pay you a  bit, enough, to go out and expose wrongdoing, and that feeling is a hell of a lot better than money or drugs or anything else for that matter.

So that’s why you should do journalism and that ain’t going away no matter how the different platforms of media delivery are being invented and squirted out into a an ever-more-divided world between those who have power and abuse it and those who are abused and used.

Nothing else can get to that like well-directed and properly-researched journalism, Nothing, not politics, not the police (if relevant). No, nothing. And that alone should motivate journalists of any age – the anger to damn well try and do something about it.

And you can.

Yes I have been lucky and yes I have had many understanding editors – but they are in the much-maligned mainstream media.


Alex Thomson covering the Gibraltar shootings in 1988

Long, investigative stories over weeks, months and often years can and do make a difference and I have had my share – Bloody Sunday, the Mull of Kintyre and Rangers to pick three at random. All of them in their own way made a difference. The first two absolutely changed judicial history and righted grave miscarriages of justice.

That is what journalism can do and that is what it will always be called upon to do. And there’s nothing special about me in any way.

Look at Panorama and the care homes issue. Look at the Sir Jimmy Savile investigations and all that has come from that. These are events , these are journalistic triumphs. The bad old MSM forcing change in the way we run our lives in these islands.

Whatever the motives for all those working to make those changes I will bet the farm I don’t have that not one of the individuals was doing it for the money or the middle-class lifestyle or the whatever material benefits that could arise.

They were doing it because they were angry at the way things are and they had the power to make it better.

Make. It. Better.

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