“You write so well la, how do you do it ah?” the girl from the tabloid had asked the other day. Distracted by the click of a wire tap falling into place, and the echoing hollow background of a speakerphone, I ask her what she had said. “Your articles are so well written la, how do you do it?” I laugh, this is a repeat of another conversation and the situation a repeat of another not so long ago. Special Branch is training yet another officer in psy-war destruction techniques, probably. “How do you do it…” she says, then barely pauses and adds, “I suppose we just want a magic formula.”
Sadly that’s true. Sadly that’s also exactly what I’ve said in recent conversations, that younger journos only seem to want instant formulas, magic formulas, set-piece routines they can trot out. For this kind of situation, do such-and-such. For that kind of situation, do such-and-such.
In answer I would sometimes pose another question.
(Mental picture of cartoon showing man with violin in New York street asking for directions)
“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”
“Practice, practice, practice.”
But what the girl from the tabloid had really wanted to say, but didn’t, was: “You really wrote that ah? Somebody wrote that for you is it?” That was probably the point she had wanted to make, but had left unsaid. The ghosts in the machine are quite accomplished at what they do and an untrained layman is no match. And that is also the point they want to hammer home. Repeatedly.
As Dato Sakmongkol AK47 points out, while taking a swipe at NST veterans running the paper (one of his favourite themes) there is good writing elsewhere on the Internet:
Now, with the internet, your legendary stature built during that Jurassic age cannot stand competition. Those untrained in journalistic discipline can often write better and out-think you.
No doubt about that. Just as there is no doubt that the ghosts in the machine, on the Internet and in the alleys and side streets are professionals against which an untrained civilian or layman stands not a hope.
Dato Sak is right that “uppercaise” would not last long in today’s media, at Balai Berita or anywhere else. He would be up against too many long knives and too many ghosts from too many nations in too many languages.
And, of course, up against their media stooges, too.