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Adventures in the Underworld

Adventures in the Underworld

Once upon a time, I was an ambitious young foreign correspondent for the New York Times. Disillusioned by the paper’s support for starting wars, I resigned to start a Balkan Summer of Love. Needless to say, this didn’t go as planned. A tragi-comic caper ensued, as this memoir records. It probably didn’t help making business deals with gangsters, but it seemed to make sense at the time. The experience taught me how not to change the world, and why getting high was not the same as being enlightened.

We've Been Framed

We've Been Framed

According to the philosopher John Gray: "The project of promoting maximal economic growth is, perhaps, the most vulgar ideal ever put before suffering humankind." It's also suicidal. Because of the way we live, more growth means consuming more oil, coal and gas, and clogging the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, which remains for a century, heating it up. As the Financial Times screams: "Drive for growth 'will ruin planet'." Yet this scary prediction was news-in-brief, and duly vanished down the memory hole, despite it stemming from officials, whose views most often frame the headlines.

Fake Financial Times

Fake Financial Times

Inspired by The Yes Men, I printed a fake Financial Times. Its satire had serious messages. Working for Reuters and the New York Times, I saw how governments and big business skew the news. Journalistic objectivity is a myth. Unless reporters set agendas themselves, they serve someone else’s. It’s “objective” to take dictation from officials, but disputing what they say is seen as “biased”. This limits how we think about alternatives. If they're framed as they look to those who run the world, not much changes.

Light On Journalism

Light On Journalism

Many journalists love reading Scoop, a biting satire on their business. Yet they thrive on what its author lampooned as "the luscious, detailed inventions that composed contemporary history". Loosened by booze, some might voice doubts about their trade. But they don't explain how the media misinform us. That's left to critics on the Internet, who hardly ever find new facts. Most just repackage what they read. Some kind of hybrid is required. "Journalists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your illusions."