Why This Journo No Longer Trusts International Media
By Nury Vittachi | IANS
This columnist no longer listens to the international media; luckily I still have the voices in my head. Which leads me to the following query.
Question: What is the main activity of the trained accountant? Answer: Embezzling money from clients, governments, charities and pretty much anyone who wanders by.
“Wait,” says the nearest bean counter. “That can’t be right. That’s not our MAIN activity. We just do that in our tea breaks.”
So you’d think. But type “accountant” into Google’s news search function and items about them stealing stuff outnumber all reports about them doing mainstream accountant stuff such as auditing companies, filing tax returns, being boring, telling atrocious jokes, spilling coffee on their dark suits, flying to Bermuda with suitcases of cash, etc.
Clearly accountants are victims of the media’s (and humanity’s) inherent bias towards bad news.
I first got interested in this some years ago when there was a spate of articles about piano teachers molesting students. I was shocked. Piano teachers might be slow-rocking, hollow-eyed obsessives, yes, but uniquely evil?
Then came a spate of articles about DJs being uniquely evil for the same offence. I was shocked again. Then came articles about TV hosts being uniquely evil, priests being uniquely evil, parliamentarians being uniquely evil, etc.
A statistician eventually explained it to me. Pretty much everybody in the world has had to fend off a creepy guy at least once. That’s 7.6 billion victims. So any journalist asking “has anyone been sexually harassed by a (insert profession here)” is guaranteed to get 500,000 people putting up their hands.
Andrew Cline, a professor who studies this, explained: “Once a master narrative has been set, it is very difficult to get journalists to see that their narrative is simply one way, and not necessarily the correct or best way, of viewing people and events.”
A massive recent study in the US showed that the most common industries for sexual harassment cases were hotels, food service, retail and manufacturing. Piano teachers, DJs and TV hosts didn’t even make the Top 10, and we all know that accountants and priests reproduce asexually, like algae and water fleas.
Fortunately, no one takes journalists all that seriously these days. By rights, we should be turning on the TV one night to find a newscaster saying: “Breaking news: Nobody believes us any more.”
One of my colleagues says that whenever he hears a surprising piece of news, he asks himself: “Is it true or is it CNN?” I thought that was a bit cruel until I watched the channel and saw a report blaming Republicans for the last Ice Age, which was 2.6 million years ago.
When did we stop believing? In 2016, every major international media outlet repeatedly told the world that a) Hillary Clinton would be US President and b) a win for Trump would lead to instant financial collapse in every market. In both cases, the opposite was true.
Anyway, any accountant reading this can now go back to what you normally do. If it’s embezzling, I don’t want to know. My fingers are in my ears, la la la la la.
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas and comments via his Facebook page)