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I wonder what would happen if we all just stopped being chickens.


My co-workers sometimes call our news bureau the factory farm. The lights are fluorescent; office silos lined up in quick succession; stationary nondescript and stored in a grey metal cupboard with a latch that creaks when heaved open. We are obviously the chickens. The chickens create everything from TV news and radio through to photography and the written word. Management calls this content. Our content must be diligent, timely, digestible, accurate, informed. It must always be for the audience, as if they have a prescription and we are their calm doctor, even though we are really still just the chickens at the feed pen, feather pecking through a collegial smile. Recently, a co-worker told me that good broadcast journalism was about “smoke and mirrors.” I guess the hair and makeup also helps disguise the chicken lips. Increasingly, I wonder about this painted reality and wonder if the people who follow the news understand what brings them their nightly 7PM bulletin or the stories they ‘like’ on Facebook. I wonder if they know about the cliché news scramble or the things we omit due to timing and convenience or the anxiety hedged into those small lines of silos. It’s not like it’s completely malignant deception. Few want to hear about the debt crisis in Greece or the latest bomb in Gaza from somebody with panic in their vocal chords. And many workers in the media profess to enjoy the daily anxiety. It’s just that the wondering about how much is hidden makes me also wonder about all the other occupations in the world that have the same calm face: the telemarketers, the brand managers, the salespeople, the politicians, the lobbyists, the public faces, the workers just hoping for a small pay raise.

I wonder what would happen if we all just stopped being chickens.

– Anonymous in Australia

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