Manipulation

Like the old grandmas, I can’t remember if I already told you this story or not. Anyway I’ll go for it. It’s one of my little anecdotes from my time as a reporter.

We were in a political campaign for the general and local elections. We were really fed up of the politicians and their daily public relations events. They were too used to have us around to write about every meeting with their supporters.

That year, my boss decided that we won’t go to any event during the campaign unless there were some big news, like the visit of the Presidente or something like that.

So we worked normally during the campaign in a variety of subjects, leaving the politicians alone and pretty angry.

One day, a sad Tuesday with no big fishes from the capital coming, nothing special happening, my boss sent us to all the campaign events of the day. We had the mission to collect the same data about every one: In wich place took place, how many supporters attended, who was de speaker, and the incidences.

My assignment was to go to a meeting of the socialists in a worker’s neighbourhood of my city.

When I arrived there were only a few attendants and I sat down in one of the chairs with them. But soon arrived a TV crew. Then I left the chair because I didn’t want to appear in TV as a supporter of the socialists. I tried always to be very prudent keeping my political independence. The best way to don’t appear in the images was to stay by the cameramen. So I did. Besides, they were my friends. The TV reporter sat with the rest of the people.
I counted the assistants to the event: 18 (it was de biggest meeting of the day). The main speaker was the mayor of the city who was very popular among the constituents but not in the apparatus of the party. His name was Balduz. After him would speak the new candidate, less known. When Balduz was talking, the chief of the campaign came to me and told me:

– “Don’t you inform a word of what he’s saying”.
– Excuse me?
– I said that don’t say nothing about Balduz, everything about the new candidate.
– I’m sorry, but I’ll write whatever I want.
(surprised expression)
– But aren’t you a writer for the National TV?
– No. I’m from a newspaper.
(getting pale)
– Sorry. We tell to the National TV what to inform… Well, they ask us what to say… Well, everybody does…

So when I returned to my newsroom I had one of the best stories of the day: Incidences: the socialist campaign chief tried to manipulate a journalist and he admits he manipulates National TV.

Prudent

Author: Olga Brajnović

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6 Comments

  1. Great post! Some people never learn there is no such thing as “off the record” LOL!!

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    • You’re right. This guy didn’t know to whom he was talking. it was the beginning of a harsh polemic about the control that the party had over the public tv.

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      • I wanted to be a journalist all my life. However, in my late high school and early University days I became bipolar (though not diagnosed for another 10 or so years). I was unable to study and ended up dropping out. I did complete my degree and became a freelance technical writer instead. But I live vicariously through reporters I know and those depicted on TV (though I know that the performances are glamourized!).

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    • it’s like living in an emotional roller coaster. Exciting and exhausting. one day you’re surrounded by happy people in some festive event, next day you may be in the middle of a tragedy. If you work rightly, there’s no place for boredom. The best part is that you learn lots of new and unexpected things every day and meet very interesting people. But above all that you realize that you can actually help real people with your work. I don’t know. It’s difficult to explain so briefly.

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