It takes at least 10 years to become an overnight sensation, I reminded her, just after she got the big job, the sweet paycheck and all the rest after a long, long time in the trenches working, sometimes literally, for table scraps. I knew she had made it, I told her, by all the haters she was attracting.
“I know!” she said, barely able to contain her glee.
Because she knows what I know: Nobody hates you for nothing.
And in our business, putting aside the virulent racism and misogyny that can run rampant among the people who engage with reporters on the internet, they really only hate you for one of three reasons. One of them is success, which my friend just recently experienced. That will get you hate from peers and readers alike.
Another is journalistic malpractice. I hate that shit, though I am mostly evolved enough not to hate those who partake in it, because I myself have been guilty of it more times than I care to mention.
But what they really hate is when you tell the truth: That restaurant you love is mediocre at best; that expensive project is something nobody asked for and nobody wants; that new development will cause a lot of poor and powerless people to suffer. The new play sucks. The creek’s been polluted. That guy’s a crook.
George Orwell said: “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want published; everything else is public relations.” Here’s another one: People love bullshit and hate the truth.
Hate is the price we pay in the news business. Hate is the sacrifice we make for the public good. Hate is how we know we’re doing our job, because we’ve made all the right enemies.
For a journalist, if someone doesn’t hate you for something you wrote, then you are not properly doing your job.
Like my friend, I’ve been doing this long enough that I love the hate. I collect it, take it out to examine it, break it down into categories like I used to do with my baseball cards when I was a kid.
And when I die, let them not say, “He didn’t have an enemy in the world,” because that would just be more bullshit.
A better epitaph is this: “They hated me! And I loved them for it!”
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