A new place to make a difference
To be perfectly honest, the first text journalists publish is addressed to their parents or perhaps a teacher of little faith or a mocking friend. That's it. And then there are the readers, imaginary or real.
This was supposed to be our time, the time of the small-fry journalist. Super predators like Daniel Ben Simon - whom I hope will forgive the metaphor, which is meant as a form of flattery - are stepping aside and the road to the top suddenly seems shorter. Traversable.
One keyboard was left orphaned. One of the building's rooms is waiting for a new occupant, and even the publisher's pocket, which we have learned to think of as gradually shrinking, seems plentiful and inviting. So why does it feel so sour?
It's not concerns about the legacy they leave behind, but because of the bottom line - the conclusion the retirees spelled out so clearly and unequivocally. Ben Simon and Shelly Yachimovich before him, along with the late Tommy Lapid, chose to leave journalism when they had reached their professional peaks.
It takes journalists long years to reach the status of these three, so how come they were prepared to throw everything away after they had toiled so hard? What broke their backs?
None of the them said anything about exhausted potential or about their jobs being overdemanding. None of them complained about the lack of proper compensation from their employers or about apocalyptic changes in the field. Had that been the nature of their grievances, then the sourness would not be so troubling.
One could change one's field of coverage, move to a new medium or perhaps find a more generous publisher. What made them throw in the towel was the realization that journalism was not the place where one could make a difference. For that, they had to step into the political arena.
It seemed as though these were three journalists whom no one could afford to ignore. And then they chose to dispense with what their status afforded them and shout that the emperor had no clothes.
To be perfectly honest, the first text journalists publish is addressed to their parents or perhaps a teacher of little faith or a mocking friend. That's it. And then there are the readers, imaginary or real. They number at least a few hundred thousand. With time, they are no longer concerned with proving a point or making an impression. They become less interested with criticism for its own sake.
They become interested in convincing, shedding new light, making a difference, influencing. Often we imagine that this is exactly what we have done. That feeling of bliss contains a lot of ego, but also prodigious amounts of a sense of mission. Could it be that these sensations are no more than hallucinations?
It would be much easier to stomach if that group of infidels had turned their backs on journalism for some cushy job or fantastic financial reward. They haven't. They all spoke of their decision in terms reminiscent of the Judgment of Solomon. They all said they were torn up about leaving a genuine and warm home.
It was not from a professional point of view that they sensed they had reached a dead end, but rather from the point of view of their value system. They were tired of playing pretend. They wanted to make a difference, to switch to a much more effective arena. There's not a shred of opportunism or upgrade-oriented thinking here. There is only desperation about the limits of their professional field.
The knee-jerk reaction is to accuse them of being irresponsible. Deciding to leave is all well and good, but they should keep their insights to themselves, because a little consideration of the ones left behind wouldn't hurt. What are we supposed to think about the next bloc of text we write? It's quite upsetting.
On the other hand, what better motivation for a young journalist than to prove to others - and above all to his former colleagues - that they are mistaken.
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