Tip-hungry journalists and Bulgaria's 111th position on the World Press Freedom IndexLyubomira Budakova , Sofia
How much does the conscience of a journalist cost? Everything and nothing. Because it is not for sale. Of course, if we are talking about good conscience, and if it is the conscience of a journalist. However, a breed of tip-hungry species have multiplied themselves in the guild (the comparison was drawn by a certain high-paid sample of that same breed, who decided to pose herself as a taxi driver). These people can no longer be qualified as journalists and their conscience is quite elastic. Because they have sold off both their conscience and their profession.
And they keep on putting themselves up for rent - to those who are ready to pay for them - both for their voices and for the platforms to which they have access, under their guise of journalists.
The price they charge for doing it varies according to their position in this food chain set up for the manipulation of society. Some do it for fees paid in euro for taking part in grant-funded seminars. Others - for a cut of under-the-table payments pocketed by their bosses. Still others do it for multi-million contracts, trips on board of luxury private aircraft and yachts, to posh resorts across the world at somebody else's expense. Just as a certain CEO of a national TV station did, as it transpired. And he hardly was the only one.
To be frank, these tip-hungry “journalists” have not just sprung out of nowhere. They were cultivated by a certain group of “businessmen” who want to be seen as honest white-collar types but only in order to be able to plunder from all of us, just as they have been doing it during the last decades. Currently all of them are facing charges or are indicted for their crimes. For these “businessmen”, tips are just a part of the entire food chain, and the ultimate goal is whitewashing their marred reputations. One of them is oligarch Ivo Prokopiev, who is even the creator of this food chain, as well as its godfather (in all meanings of the word). And, as any real godfather, he baptised it and gave it a name - the Mainstream.
Actually, this “mainstream” is a swamp swarming with sold consciences, which is doing its best to clog and hinder the work of real journalists, doing it not to the benefit of the society but to curry favour with those who pay them in order to cheat this same society. This swamp spreads out not only just over one or two media outlets, and not only over those directly funded by the abovementioned “businessmen” at that. Its inhabitants cast their dirt also over the real journalists working for these same media outlets. And more often than not these good journalists make up the majority, but their tip-hungry colleagues - planted on top posts - are muffling their voices.
The latest in a series of media sandals is a proof to that - following the disclosures of bTV's criminal practices, namely how that TV stations swallowed millions thanks to unprofitable contracts with the Bulgarian Sports Totalisator, and not only for corporate gain (or rather to the benefit of concrete people). Meanwhile, yet another indicted businessman has priority in airing his defence theses, while the TV keeps adding to its tally. Just like earlier, before him, it gave the floor with priority to those of his kind. Because there is hardly a person who believes that representing “all points of view” would mean to obtrusively give priority on air to people who are facing charges or are indicted, and to avoid or even silence and censor those who accuse them of crimes.
Moreover, they are doing it with the same sadomasochist pleasure every time when yet another smoke grenade gets exploded by Reporters Without Borders. Whenever it happens, they start repeating like a mantra the claims of these “Reporters” that Bulgaria takes 111th position on their World Press Freedom Index. And these are the claims of those who themselves admit that their ranking for Bulgaria is based on the opinions of about 10 people and is not representative of the profession (and there is no way for it to be). Nevertheless, they stubbornly refuse to admit another truth - that the people in question are part of the same food chain created by Prokopiev and his ilk. And these claims are made in order to cater for exactly their interests.
That is why in the ranking of these so-called “Reporters”, Bulgaria is pushed down to 111th position while in other rankings it is described as “free”. Because the truth is that Bulgaria has no problems with freedom of speech, but it faces incessant attempts at manipulating the public opinion by the tip-hungry and their masterminds. It is high time for the country and its citizens to clear up this swamp and get rid of it.