08 August 2012

The Hun Mole: Notes From A Tabloid Newsroom

If you ever require proof that the current crop of university students are the most pampered and Leftist than ever before then read no further than the tripe below. This was published in the Melbourne University magazine where an anonymous journalism student laments about all the perils she (I presume it's a she) went through during her 2-week internship at a local newspaper. The precious petal was outraged when men opened doors for her or allowed her to vacate an elevator first. The horror! Not only that, she just couldn't understand how a senior journalist made transphobic comments in front of everyone (I'm guessing transphobic doesn't refer to being anti-trans fatty acids but being anti-transgender people?). She was also shocked that people were homophobic because they didn't want to accept gay marriage - yes, that's the new bench mark for being considered 'homophobic' these days. She carries on (and on) about how all her sensitivities were injured during her 2-weeks of torture, but doesn't see the irony when she says that Australia's most well-known climate change skeptic (Andrew Bolt) should have his face on a pinata. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that she's an inner-city-soy-latte-sipper, vegan-eating-Green-voter. Just a guess mind you! Here's hoping that Ms Anonymous stays in University where she is kept safe and prevented from going out in the real world where - gasp! - men swear and open doors for women. In fact, what's the bet she'll end up as a professor of Journalism and get to lecture the next crop of Lefty-biased 'journalists'. Goodness knows she's half-way there already what with being eternally offended by the common people.

Like many journalism students at Melbourne universities, I participated in an internship as a part of my degree. Like a few journalism students at Melbourne universities, I had a pretty horrific time. The corporation I visited for two weeks was a widely read newspaper that shall be henceforth referred to as The Hun. The internship was supposed to reveal the inner workings of my chosen profession and to inspire me in my future career path. If this is the case, I may as well kiss my journalism career goodbye. 

On the first day of my placement, senior journalists and the editor of The Hun reviewed a piece about an overweight man who was endeavoring to lose 200kg through hypnosis.Comments in the news conference included “Of course he’s fat, look at what he eats” and “How does someone let that happen?” On the second day, I overheard a conversation with a senior journalist mocking the grief of the friend of a well-known footballer who had recently passed away. Similarly, a photographer at the press conference dismissed my concerns that he was taking photos of underage people, saying,“they should be older.” These photos, however,were not published in the final edit. On the fifth day, at The Sunday Hun news conference, a female journalist bizarrely insisted that an article debating the benefits of chocolate should be written by a female: “A woman needs to say chocolate is good.” She then went on to say that a science piece should be cut, commenting, “Women will glazeover—space and history—you’ll lose half your readership.” The editor did not disagree. On the sixth day, a senior journalist sitting across from me repeatedly made transphobic comments to a peer who was discussing a potential story on a trans person with him. His remarks included, “He? She? It?” “There has to be a photo of it” and “You should put the heading—‘My Life As A She-Man!’ or ‘G-Boy.’” No one in the newsroom reacted.

On the seventh day, I was asked to write a story about pigs being used to test breast augmentation in a “humorous” tone. I found the proposition absurd and informed my superior that I felt the story was essentially government funded animal cruelty. His response: “You don’t mind if I buxom bacon it up? It’s worth is just so we can use the phrase ‘perky porkers.’” The story did not end up going to print. The senior journalist opposite me moved from transphobia to homophobia on the eighth day, commenting on a recent piece on gay marriage. “Why are they [the gay community] making such a fuss? It’s been this way for millennia, why change now?” Although he had a right to state an opinion,the blatant sense of entitlement and privilege in the room was palpable. A few minutes later, he joked to the chief-of-staff about a recent article on Catholic priests opposed to gay marriage: “It’s good to have the Catholics in the news with no pedophilia; although I guess there’s still sex and gays.

”Throughout the week, I was consistently subjected to patronising attitudes, being referred to as ‘Little Bud’, ‘Champ’ and ‘Kid-let.’Men were also continuously and unnecessarily sexist, waiting for me to walk through doors and leave the elevator before them. If I had had any energy left in my body after those two weeks, I would have run from the building when the clock hit 5pm on my last day.My internship doesn't leave me wanting to be a journalist.

At the end of every day I left The Hun’s immense grey building feeling as if all the life, love and passion in me had been sucked out, and replaced with mud. Many of my peers and friends were unimpressed when I spoke to them of my experiences throughout the week, ‘What did you expect?’ they asked, rolling their eyes.Well, I had fairly low expectations of the publication going in to the experience, but a lot lower of the whole industry coming out. Newspapers aren’t just stories.They’re not scraps of paper with people's opinions scrawled on them. They are a key component in democracy, in reflecting and sustaining social commentary and values. They affect politics, sports, crime, campaigns—hell, they can even sway you on what to eat for dinner.

The Hun’s approach is both deluded and wrong. Basic fact checking would have refuted many of the heteronormative, white,elitist opinions expressed in that building regarding gender and trans people. Basic commonsense and respect would have eliminated many of the other scenarios.These encounters all happened in a period of two short weeks—I shudder to think of the other wrongdoings that must take place throughout an entire year.Scenarios like this shouldn't exist. Theyshouldn’t be ‘the norm’ or ‘expected’—especially not for those within the media industry. They should be fought against,yelled at, spat on, and changed.Our journalism lecturers teach us that one of the most important rules in an internship is to not question your superiors. Don’t rock the boat, don’t tell the editor show to do their job, don’t make a mess, anddon’t cause a fuss. Because of this, it may not be one my greatest ideas to write an article critical of the popular institution I interned for.

But as an aspiring student journalist it would be wrong of me to not bring light to scenarios I believe demean us all. I’ll never be employed by The Hun , but that’s not something I mourn. I usually feel sad when poring over decreasing readership sand closed mastheads. But any force—declining revenue, ethical maelstroms, online competition—that can injure this publication,should be met with party poppers, streamers and a piñata of a certain “climate skeptic’s” head. If Australia’s big mastheads all function like this then I say bring on their decline.Rip down the banners that have led to media exclusivity and elitism. Huzzah to the future of online, diverse reporting. Even if it fucks up, at least it’s not as bad as The Hun.

By Anonymous



  1. There is a remedy for this Alice/Alex in Wonderland :
    Start your own newspaper or magazine and see how far you get. Much luck ! You will need it.

    1. Now that I'd want to see (not read)!

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