How to make it to the big time in western journalism

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Don’t wuss out or let yourself be moved by what you will see, the people in distress, the children in basements, the war crimes, the witnesses of Ukrainian Army atrocities, the weeping women, the elderly with no pension — forget all that, quick. 

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October 18, 2015

October 20, 2015

Translated from French by Tom Winter

Tr note:  I can attest that these rules work in the US as well!

Our journalists in France are just great. To be sure of getting into a good news service, the road is always the same. Would you like that salary, that sacrosanct press card, and the tax benefits that go with it? Would you want prizes, sweet wages and a great career? Well, then, here’s a little reminder of the steps to follow to become, not one of those journalists who just do their job, but a journalist destined for honor and recognition. Let’s follow along to see how it’s done, via the russophobe route.

1) Get into a great school, as described by Serge Halimi in The New Watchdogs, it is an essential step. You have the choice between the School of Journalism in Paris, or one of schools that produce the servants of Political Science — or failing that, any other kind of school, just so long as the price of admission is astronomical. You could also think of the Anglo-Saxon schools.

2) Do internships, exchanges with other colleges, proceed preferably via the MGIMO in Moscow. Learn as much Russian as you can in and periodically slip some time in a newsroom or the offices of French media in Russian territory. You have the choice, the Public Group 2 France, Le Figaro, RTL, RFI, or the ultimate, AFP.

3) Say it everywhere: you love Russia and Russians. Infiltrate the French expatriate community and network. The further and the higher you can reach in the French or Russian spheres, the better. In front of “hostile forces” remember that you are a Russophile. Accentuate the charm of your Russian with your strong French accent. If necessary lie with aplomb to introduce yourself; infiltrate everywhere you can. Feel free to wear a St. George ribbon or other sign of Russian patriotism that you put in the closet, once you’re out of sight.

4) Go to the Donbass, and either play the Russophile card or your “neutral”status. Swear on everything they ask you that you are “with them.” This way you can take the important step.

5) Look for anything that might be negative. This is not difficult: you could do it in France, but in a country at war, tracking down the negative will take no time at all.

Don’t wuss out or let yourself be moved by what you will see, the people in distress, the children in basements, the war crimes, the witnesses of Ukrainian Army atrocities, the weeping women, the elderly with no pension — forget all that, quick. Incidentally forget that you have never seen the Russian Army: this is important or you’ll break your career forever. Do not stay too long, you risk letting it all get to you, or finding out that you do in fact have a soul with some compassion in you. Remember, write positive stuff and (a), it doesn’t sell, and (b) you screw yourself automatically.

6) Back in France. Write reports using the proper propaganda dialectic of your country, i.e. “terrorists”, “separatists”, “pro-Russian.” Surf all the Russophobia and hit hard, remembering to flay the Russians and Putin. This is now the sine qua non, because without it, your career is lost. Write only the negative, talk of corruption, mix genres so the item is in the mold that your editor is looking for: the public should be offended, the Russian Army must seem hostile and possibly pathetic. Normally through your internships and your big-time school cachet you should sell your items well. From here on out, you reach the main objective: you have sworn allegiance.

7) Stay servile, always be careful to write, and only write, in the direction where the French media are going. Do not get investigated, and especially in case of any complaints, stand on your “objective neutrality.”

8) Show up at all the prize ceremonies. Since you’re just a peon amidst the jungle of your colleagues, enter for War Correspondent prizes, if only in the junior or regional category. No fear — you’re only in competition with those who enter, so there’s no risk of real full-blown competition. If all goes well you will get the money — such prizes entail several thousand euros.

9) Get on as a regular with AFP. You have succeeded at the toughest step, your future is assured, and you career is made! [for example] You’ve got your press card, the tax benefits and those good wages.

10) Do not go back to the Donbass! If you were such a softie as to have contacts you feel any sympathy with, or you worry for the people you betrayed there, or if they write you after your articles appear, do not answer. At the Russian level the doors will stay open, and you may be lucky enough to be at the head of one of the AFP or Figaro offices there in a few years. As a French journalist you are untouchable.

11) Go to step 4, and repeat, in other places and conflicts through step 7 or 8 as often as you can. The more you points you score, the more you climb the ladder.

12) After you’ve gathered in your “capital”, with a reasonably established career, you may be lucky to meet your partner or companion. This will be the moment to draw the dividends, return to France, and settle into everyday life. You can engage in politics, if you think your fiber is suitable –militant only — for your political label. If politics does not interest you, take it easy in your office — you may be lucky enough to land a spot as editor, or better yet, editor-in-chief, or maybe more. If you have been servile enough and you have built a good network everything is possible.

13) Incidentally, given the difficulty in communicating about any background in the middle of the lambda type, make no mention of your situation as “journalist” and do not mingle. Stay among respectable people of that environment, choose well your companion or partner in the sense that it would be stupid to have a grain of sand slipping into a beautiful career plan. If you identify any deviants around you, drop them. If you have a venomous fiber you can also undermine and expose such characters. You might well rise faster in the system after this.

14) When you get the chance, give some thought to despising your readership. You are now in the elite, and scorn will certainly help you stay competitive. You might also think of putting a spoke in the wheels of your colleagues, even the non-deviant ones. The competition is the mother of emulation, promotions, and benefits that you can not ignore. Even once installed into the system your career can suddenly collapse. Rely on your network, but not too much. Be a racing jockey but don’t wear out your mount — it would be stupid not reach step 15.


15) In your old age, or even before, think about writing books or holding photo exhibitions. You may even be lucky enough to receive other prizes, with strong possibilities of medals. Who knows, maybe the Legion of Honor?

In the twilight of your life, no worries. If all went well you’ll have no conscience problems, in fact you will have spent so much time serving the system that you will be convinced to the end of your days that you have done well. If you still have any disturbing doubts or remorse, just find yourself a good shrink. Apply this recipe to the end, you’ll see it’s magic!

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