July 15, 2004


Indonesia is overrun with bogus journalists:

News hounds this week rallied in the Javanese city of Yogyakarta to protest against the proliferation of fraudsters masquerading as working journalists.

They declared a "No to bogus journalists day" and handed out bumper stickers warning "Stop. We do not accept or serve bogus journalists".

Most of the sham newsmen carry counterfeit press cards identifying them as members of the media.

How does anybody tell the difference?

Posted by Tim Blair at July 15, 2004 06:32 AM

In the majority of cases, if the journalist asks intelligent and unbiased questions, they're a fake.

This brings up the question why do so many journo's lower the standard of reporting they once held?

Posted by: Lofty at July 15, 2004 at 06:45 AM

Why would a person do that? Do they want to be reviled and spit at on the street?

I thought the comparison to crop-destroying monkeys and algal blooms was a nice touch, though...

If million crop-destroying monkeys sat at a million keyboards for a million years could they produce a news story that showed George W. Bush in a positive light?

Posted by: RainDog at July 15, 2004 at 06:52 AM

THe FAke Journos
Have no lobotomy scars above the left ear.
Not easy to spot without ruffling the hair a little.
fake Journos pay their bar bills promptly and do not ask for discounts.

Posted by: davo at July 15, 2004 at 08:08 AM

I thought "real" journalists have a bar code tattooed on their butts when they are first hired.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at July 15, 2004 at 10:19 AM

I suppose it could be worse: they might try to pass themselves off as fake used-car dealers.

No wait, I take that back: it's too insulting to car dealers to compare them to journos.

Posted by: freddyboy at July 15, 2004 at 01:14 PM

quite right.
but debagging journos in public bars is a dangerous business, unless you have a prenupial and are married to one.
better to use the "Are you shouting this round, mate" ploy.

Posted by: davo at July 15, 2004 at 03:48 PM

Who are they? I thought of child-sex tourists, but why should they want to lower themselves like that?

There are also lepers in Indonesia, but the same problem arises.

Posted by: Sue at July 15, 2004 at 07:08 PM

Couldn't the fake journalists be detected by a call to the news organizations they are supposed to represent? Perhaps this wouldn't help in the case of free lancers?

Sounds like there may be a lot of juicy stories just waiting to be told over there. If the fake journalists' scams worked, there are stories to be told. The real journalists could help remove the weapon of blackmail employed by the fakes ... write the stories and expose the corruption.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at July 15, 2004 at 09:45 PM

Strangely the pseudo-journos don't bother to pretend they represent real publications. They mostly carry fake IDs for fake media.

Their MO is to go in packs to functions and demand entry, free food and "journo expenses".

This is because most real-journos don't get paid much and rely on food and transportation gifts from PR organisers. [It is said that some of the more useful media people get bigger gifts].

As a large scruffy group the pseudo-journos are intimidating and they are quite bold and rude. The newly-pro-democratic police are wary of touching them as they've now been trained by the real-journos to lay off the media [in public that is].

If the group is big enough and doing something outrageous - like a hotel foyer sit-in - someone from the event side will eventually get down on the carpet to negotiate a suitable exit fee.

When linked to real criminal gangs, the pseudo-journalists will often approach businesses and local government leaders for shut-up money, pretending otherwise they will publish black stories. Actually, they are really threatening physical intimidation under the cover of their fake-media identity.

No wonder the real-journalists have had enough. They are underpaid, undertrained and, in a country emerging slowly from dictatorship and corruption, often face real personal danger.

When you see how it works on the ground - I'd guess its the same in Iraq as in indonesia - you get to better appreciate how a free press is critical for building democracy; and how much shit these real-journos have to put up with.

Posted by: Geoffrey Gold at July 15, 2004 at 10:23 PM