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Issue 82 - The truth is...

Whisky Magazine Issue 82
September 2009


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The truth is...

Whisky book worm Jefferson Chase looks at a different side of journalism.

When I'm not being a journalist for this publication, I'm a journalist for an international television station.

Which means I work in the medium responsible for informing/dumbing down the majority of the population.

So I thoroughly enjoyed Michael Collins' 2000 novel The Keepers of Truth, a book that makes no secret of why our trade is sometimes referred to as the world's second oldest profession.

Narrator Bill works at a dying newspaper in a crumbling post-industrial town in the midwestern United States. Forget any images of newsroom, burn-the-candle-at-both-end-inpursuit- of-a-story romanticism you might know from movies. Bill's job is merely rewriting secondhand info to take up space.

I'm stuck at my desk waiting for the AP wire to feed some lifeline into a paper that must now be filled each day. We don't have a war so it makes my job hard. I kind of wish we had a war. We have lots of good kids here who could die beautiful, patriotic deaths... But things are more insidious now. It's not hard to find casualties, what's hard is to get people to admit they are casualties.

Woodward and Bernstein this is not.

But Bill does get a break when a local ruffian called Ronny Lawton is accused of murdering his father, then dicing and hiding the body. Our hero writes up the story. His bourbon-swilling editor is pleased.

He poured me a drink. He pawed at me in the way drunks touch other men. ‘That's goddamn journalism, Chief.' That's when I first realised I had hardly written on...

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