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Fashioning Your Career in the Swedish MSM
Course number: 101. You can make it to the top. Or at least find your perfect place.
DUCKPOND (Rixstep) — Journalism is an honourable profession. Think of the likes of John Pilger. Or Laura Poitras. They win awards! You too - yes even in Sweden - can be a journalist! But probably not a Pilger or Poitras. Read on.
√ Go to a college of journalism. Today the leader is called JMK, a part of the University of Stockholm. Just enrol. No worries. The photos don't look particularly welcoming, but no matter - you're a step from Swedish public service radio and television right around the corner, and if you walk in the other direction, you'll end up at the Stockholm residence of legendary diplomat Carl von Bildt, a good source of state secrets.
√ Get that job! If you're shooting for the stars, you have but two employers in the country: Norwegian (ja) Schibsted and the feared (Swedish) Bonnier. Bonnier can be a better choice if you have the stomach for it, as they're branched into television and stuff. There can be times when your career turns to shit for the various nefarious activities you're told to perform, and Bonnier can better shuffle you around and keep you out of sight until things calm down.
Or you could just walk right around the corner and get into public service media instead, but then you should have a demonstrable and fully documented zeal for environmental issues (to the exclusion of all others). The organisations in public service can be better as they're tax-funded, but you won't get the big bucks there unless you make it to the upper echelons.
But there's always the Cannes Film Festival, the public service 'all expenses paid' holiday. But you have to act fast - make lots of friends and suck up to everyone, and you too can get a ticket! (The Swedish contingent is the biggest at the festival, and Swedish taxpayers foot the whole shebang, even if it's not well known to them, so what's the worry?) Surprise perks for the lower wages in public service - that's the general rule.
√ Get comfy at your desk. You'll probably get seated in an office landscape. (They all do - Russell Crowe did, Woodstein did, that's life, sucka.) Just make yourself comfortable.
√ Read the news. Not the Swedish news, silly - the international news! You'll probably be directed to a number of preferred sites such as National Enquirer, Globe, Sun, Mirror, Star, Mail, and so forth. (In the old days you had to get to your local Pressbyrån and pick up the shit they had to offer. Now you use a Dell PC, or if you're really lucky - an iMac!)
√ Don't go for the major leagues. Nobody cares about Frankfurter Allgemeine or Le Monde or the New York Times. When it comes to real news, leave it alone. Just leave it. Your job is to fill pages. Actually this isn't as bad as it sounds, as most pages (not public service) are a shit-load of ads anyway. (See below.) Your pieces need only be a few hundred words.
√ You want to be a preacher? The preachers are the elite of Swedish journalism. Mostly they're section editors or culture editors or bastards who somehow get a position as a columnist. Their job is as follows.
- Always check with your boss first. There should be a list of topics you must never write about. As reported by Flashback, 'columns' on Assange, or Snowden, or WikiLeaks, or WikiLeaks releases, no matter how important, are not to be covered. You cannot write about that stuff. You'd just stir up the shit. That can't be allowed to happen.
Swedes have to feel good about themselves when they come home at the end of the day; if they don't, they'll stop buying your paper / visiting your website. Uncomfortable topics, as with investigative journalism in general, are best left to JJ and his team at Uppdrag granskning in public service. (Bonnier has Kalla fakta of course, if you're a sucker for all types of exotic punishment.)
- Pick something really irrelevant, really stupid. People don't read the news anyway. OK, a bit more so with the morning papers DN.se and SvD, but absolutely not with the evening tabloids Aftonbladet and Expressen.
Sidebar: Life Outside the Journo Compound
Remember that a capital like Stockholm is really spread out and suburbs (where most people live - not you, you'll be on Södermalm of course) are far far away. And communications into the city are shit, where there are always too few lanes for traffic - meaning most sensible people will leave their Volvos at home and use public transport.
And whilst the morning commute into work is pure hell, and probably 'SRO', with lots of unscheduled stops, and steamy air, and that insufferable silence as no one will talk to anyone or utter the tiniest measliest sound, the evening commute is when the day is over and all those ridiculous political and union meetings are behind you, all that stuffy and stiff sucking-up too, so you can start to shake it off, and start trying to get 'human' again before you get home...
And then the last thing you want is to stare into the blank face and shark eyes of an asshole sitting across from you on that dinky commuter train designed for a bunch of tiny Italians, and that asshole doesn't want to see your face either, so naturally you're equipped with one if not both evening tabloids. Expressen is probably better, as it's not generally perceived as political (but of course it is) and Aftonbladet is 'red' and very political (even though it's not - mostly at any rate). And getting on board your train with both tabloids might mark you as overly (and overtly) antisocial, so it's best to stick to one.
And of course you use GT or Kvällsposten if that's what's available where you are.
The main thing is you use the tabloid to hide your ugly face - to shut out the world around you. And you need it. After more than an hour to commute in the morning, after putting up with all that shit at work all day, and now enduring the same torturous ride back in the other direction? You fucking need it.
[Note that a book is not an adequate substitute. Bonnier's Book Club will not do. You'll look up now and then and see other faces. You need to hide.]
So keep the above in mind when you write your piece. Not everyone lives in a closed inner city society like you where people can ride a fucking bicycle to work.
Your readership put up with more shit than you ever would, and the last thing they want is to fucking think. Don't force them to think! They're all thinked out! (But they'll be very susceptible to all the ads - that's the point!)
√ Study your company structure and hierarchy. You'll get it sooner or later. You'll probably start at the bottom, which means you'll get to write silly shit like '10 ways to make your visit to the laundromat more efficient' - or maybe you'll find a good scoop on TAYLOR SWIFT and your boss will approve. (ZARA LARSSON is mostly 'verboten' unless your boss specifically tasks you - she's a cultivated tool that must be used carefully.)
Once in a great while you'll get to copy a piece from a major global site. You'll be told to abridge it brutally and slant it to the Swedish mindset (you'll get the hang of it, no worries). You're at the bottom. You're 'step one' in the formalised cultivation of your readership.
√ The preachers come next. The columnists. They're above you. Their job is to take the meagre crumbs thrown at the readership (by you) and fine-tune perceptions so people are thinking the right things. Some people call this 'political correctness'; you can call it what you want. But the name isn't important - the objective is everything. A readership that thinks correctly is a readership that stays loyal and lets the country's leaders sit still in their boats without unnecessary splish-splash.
√ Do your job correctly and you'll rise through the ranks. Or at least find your perfect place. For everyone has a perfect place. You'll find comfort in the knowledge that you too - yes you - can be a true patriot.
Odds 'n' Ends
√ Predators. Female summer workers and apprentices: watch out. There are several male 'predators' in the MSM ready to pounce on you. One such predator - name known but withheld - uses the following line, and reputedly finds great success:
'So how many days is it you've been here now, and you still haven't had sex with me?'
√ Hangouts. The pubs around Odenplan used to be the preferred hangouts for career climbers - one for the world of theatre, one for the world of news. They may have changed now, and can change at any time in the future; word is if you wanted a better position - on the stage or in the newsroom - this is where you'd go, and there were doyens there as permanent fixtures ready to see all your dreams came true - for the right 'quid pro quo' of course. (This too applied mostly to female clientele.)
Contrary to popular perception, there are actually a few good journalists in Sweden - Johannes Wahlström, Jesper Huor, and of course the legendary Hannes Råstam. But they've always been an endangered species. 99.9999% follow the course above.