Why I Quit 'The Sun'
March 31, 2003 9:21 AM   Subscribe

A journalist with principles When Katy Weitz, an anti-war feature writer for UK paper 'The Sun' picked up Thursday's edition and saw the headline, it was a step too far. She went in the following day and without another job to go to, handed in her resignation. It was no longer possible for her to write for a paper whose views she didn't agree with. I once gave up a marketing job because it ran against my principles as well. How far can we stretch ourselves before we have to shrug our shoulders and say ... it's only a job?
posted by feelinglistless (16 comments total)
"Show them no pity: they have stains on their souls."

This is not pro-war; it's just plain rabid and Ann Coulterish.

Good for Katy Weitz, and I hope a great job comes her way very soon.

Fortunately most jobs just don't involve moral dilemmas that force us to choose between paying our mortgages and our principles.

Come on guys, cut feelinglistless some slack. I'm an editor and have posted my share of embarrassing typos. [Carefully proofreads comment before throwing it to the lions.]
posted by orange swan at 9:36 AM on March 31, 2003

So basically the journalist's bias didn't work with the paper's bias. Why is this a heartwarming story? It's still a biased paper, and she's a biased journalist...
posted by oissubke at 10:17 AM on March 31, 2003

I thought the typo was "step to far"... Shouldn't that be "step too far"? As for me, I am willing to stretch as much as it takes when it's my job and I'm asked to do things that I clearly understood are part of that job. When I'm asked to do things that are well outside the bounds of my job, it's either used as leverage to get something in return or I'm not going to do it. At my last job, they "promoted" me to a position I had originally told them that I did not want. It technically was a nice promotion that I would have jumped at a couple years ago, but with a new baby I didn't want to at the time. At any rate, I quit when I was pushed over the top by a phone call when I was on my way to see a client. I turned around, walked in and resigned. I've been independent since and love it.
posted by stormy at 10:25 AM on March 31, 2003

Amid several other recent elevations of principle over employment, this seems the least impressive. She seems to have merely regained the good sense she abandonded when joining the paper. Good for her. Hope she finds another job soon, and does a little more due diligence this time.

And I have no comment re: the typos. It's a matter of principle, you see.
posted by luser at 10:27 AM on March 31, 2003

Good link. Any Murdoch publication or media holding renders itself useless in time. I applaud the journalist.

Take it easy there, grammer nazi.

I can't resist it! Try grammar Nazi instead please.
posted by nofundy at 10:27 AM on March 31, 2003

"And what on earth did I expect when I joined the Sun six months ago?"

Indeed. If she had such deeply ingrained principles then why join a scurrilous rag like The Sun in the first place? Couldn't have been the money could it?

"Show them no pity: they have stains on their souls."

I don't know how The Sun used this quote as I don't read it and their archive search is a chargeable service. However, the original quote was mentioned here earlier, linked to this article. It referred only to Iraqi regional commanders. If The Sun gave the impression that it was meant to be applied to all the Iraqi people, they should be ashamed.
posted by squealy at 10:48 AM on March 31, 2003

"And what on earth did I expect when I joined the Sun six months ago?"

Maybe a right-wing paper with topless women on Page 3?
At least, that's what an intelligent "journalist" would have thought.

I suspect her only real principle is opportunism and self-promotion.
posted by darren at 10:56 AM on March 31, 2003

So lets see...she resigns on principle from a Rupert Murdoch tabloid? Give me a break! Who did she think she was working for anyway?

Maybe Al-Jazeera has an opening, or she can hang out in the unemployment office with Peter Arnett.
posted by Durwood at 11:12 AM on March 31, 2003

Indeed. If she had such deeply ingrained principles then why join a scurrilous rag like The Sun in the first place? Couldn't have been the money could it?

You join a newspaper for experience. Years of hard work, often writing for peanuts at far from the ideal outlet, often having your soul discombobulated, working for smart editors and jaded pieces of shit, both types, much like you, shuffling through the revolving door of career opportunity.

By the time you do get somewhere, it's already too late. You've been trained to pursue the easy. You've been trained to look almost exclusively at the bottom line, the news considered "hard" in suburbia but far from real, the interests of the Almighty Dollar. And chances are you're still working for peanuts.

The newspaper on the printed page is wholly different view than the one you experience on the inside. If you are a truly principled journalist (as opposed to a principaled one), the perspective within involves fighting for hard stories, evading the separation (only on paper) of editorial and advertising, trying to make your case for a ballsy story to burned out editors who lost their idealism years ago, and otherwise languishing in bad rewrites and sources that mysteriously disappear from later drafts. You end up getting a byline for a feature which scarcily resembles the hard work you put in over the course of several weeks.

So for someone as green as Katy Weitz, it may be a shock to learn that newspapers have agendas. It may be comforting at first to resign in protest with your idealism intact, only to realize that just about all newspapers are like this and that the days of the muckrakers and Deep Throat are over. Of course, when you publish an article in a competing newspaper decrying where you once worked, there's a certain consternation in learning just how many people keep track of it. And just how many doors suddenly close upon your idealistic ass.
posted by ed at 11:15 AM on March 31, 2003

"George W Bush Has IQ of 175."

"Government Severs Ties To Capitalist Corporations."

"Beatles Back Together Again."

---- I'm sorry, but all these headlines are far more likely than...

"Journalist With Principles Works For Sun Newspaper."
posted by Blue Stone at 11:22 AM on March 31, 2003

She makes a decent point in response to the 'well, you knew what you were getting yourself into' crowd: the David Yelland Sun was a fair bit more reasonable than the spittle-flecked arse-rag that Rebekah Wade now heads, complete with its 'burn all paedos and asylum seekers' campaigns. (There were lots of rumours that Yelland wanted to phase out Page 3, some of them linked to the distaste of Murdoch's young new wife.) And you take the work where it's available, especially if you're an inexperienced hack whose salary won't pay rent for a London hovel.

Still, even a moderate version of the Sun is pretty obviously jingoistic fuel for the BNP. And Ms Weitz may have been fearing for her future anyway, given Wade's mass firings in the newsroom since she took over in January.
posted by riviera at 11:25 AM on March 31, 2003

My recent inability to wite poper english aside, there are reasons I couldn't work for 'The Sun' and most of them are to do with coming from Liverpool and the paper's seemingly active attempts to drop readers in the city.

That taken into account, I am always stunned at the times you see tabloid journalists on television and listen to them speak on the radio and how they always seem like intelligent, reasonable people ... who put out something which doesn't attempt to educate anyone, jumps on multiple bandwagons and is very difficult to read.
posted by feelinglistless at 12:29 PM on March 31, 2003

You can instantly improve the quality of your life by cutting The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Mirror and The Express right out of it.
posted by Summer at 2:42 AM on April 1, 2003

Summer: You can instantly improve the quality of your life by cutting The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Mirror and The Express right out of it.

A Daily Star girl, eh?
posted by bifter at 3:59 AM on April 1, 2003

Ho ho. You've got me.
posted by Summer at 4:15 AM on April 1, 2003

"My work here is done"

**exits, stage right**

posted by bifter at 4:20 AM on April 1, 2003

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