Into the Lion’s Den – Adventures in the home of The Sun newspaper

I was eight months deep into unemployment, it certainly wasn’t for the want of trying, I had tried many options of digging myself out of the hole I was in but none seemed to work to well. I had given up hopes of working again in the field of substance misuse – after being vilified by a criminal record for assaulting a bent police officer – so I began to apply myself to just about anything I was capable of doing.

Along the way of flinging my CV to just about anyone I was contacted by NEWS-International, they had come across my CV and wanted to conduct an interview with me about their “Advertising and Marketing Admin Executive” position. I couldn’t believe it, a paper that since about the age of 14 I’ve been – TESTIFYING – yes testifying to all and sundry about how this type of media was terrible and held back society’s thinking – they of all people were now tossing me a lifeline. Oh my, don’t get me wrong when you’ve spent the last decade of your life working in the care of others and now you’ve got a BIG BLACK MARK of assault against your name, you fucking reach out and grab whatever you can.

If anything I began to pivot on my viewpoint – thoughts raced across my mind – rejected by the left but embraced by the right? Is this the age we live in now? Vilified by any caring causes, now working for a cause that says single moms are the biggest disease ever known to humankind? Thoughts literally battled across my mind and I asked friends for assistance in my thinking, they came up with the “maybe you can change them from within?”

I accepted the interview and aced the online test they submitted to me, which was merely a typing test. I felt ethically challenged throughout the process, here I was 8 months of unemployment, homelessness and just enough giro to see me to the interview then sat before waiting for the interview with a copy of the Times and The Sun to keep me company in the glass tombstone of News-UK HQ – a place which I had hitherto always believed the devil to inhabit.

I began to instantly feel ethically strangled as the front page of the sun declared that a £5million pound budget was being spent on concealing the Jamie Bulger killer’s ID. I couldn’t help but think; a paper that still thrives on demonising the acts of an 11 year old some 20 years later, what kind of fucking nonsense is this? This is total bullshit, the fact that a child committed such a brutal act weighs down heavily upon all our shoulders – it cannot be simplified into the fact that such an individual of such an age was so responsible for such an “evil deed”. This was the absolute tripe I was now going to be a part of? My heart truly sank.

The Sun newspaper

Well my interviewer came and greeted me, we left the giant sarcophagus of the main entrance and made our way to the “news rooms”, all of which were lined by free copies of The Sun and Times to take for your pickings.
I began to try and hold back the smirks when we entered the newsrooms, they were about as comically Sun-like as you’d ever hope to imagine, there were red white and blue decals all over the wall of all things “British”. Outlines of soldiers, Bradley Wiggings, the queen and other servitudiual rubbish. It wasn’t a hurried or seemingly busy environment; most people were gently chatting and mingling whilst typing on their computers. Considering it’s a national paper that has a constant daily dead line, I was surprised there wasn’t much more tension in the atmosphere as this was the epicentre of all those horrible stories about five million pound giros, the queen being absolute number one and who’s in who’s bed fuck-fest-3000!

My interview began as any other did really, we exchanged the typical formalities and my interviewer paused and sighed, he said to me “I’ll have to be honest, why do you want to work for us?” I felt very unprepared for the question, I absolutely, ideally, in a perfect world, would see their publication fired into the sun (oh irony)! One thing that was odd I must say as soon as we began the interview he quickly hit a few buttons on the nearest telephone and I noticed a continual blinking light throughout the process – could this have been to record the interview process?

He asked me was I familiar with the publications, I said “Well there was the News of The World…” to which he immediately shook his head as if I’d uttered some cursed word. He smiled and said we don’t talk about that anymore.

He told me, the absolute number one aim of the publication was to sell advertising space – at any cost – the hyphenated bit added by me, but that was the main premise he was trying to sell me – fuck the news, forget all about that, that’s not your concern, that’s no one’s concern…..????….. It was about advertising, that what we were to speak about.

The Sun newspaperMuch to his credit the interviewer read out my CV and complimented me on my accolades in the past, said I had done very well been very career focused and very driven in building up a good portfolio, again though he folded on “Why do you want to work here?”

I couldn’t answer, his papers were everything I hated about life, the over-sensationalism, the manic episodes, the vilifying of people, groups, ages, genders and sexes. I’m an up and down man myself, I love the highs of life and morbidly obsess into the darker areas of life, but I’d always liked to think I’d done so in a protective suit, like an astronaut exploring a forbidden planet, I could retreat back inside my protective suit and not worry about the atmospheric pressures around me. Well there’d always be some haunting quality to the things you see, the human mind is like that.

The interview concluded with him telling me outright that he thought I was too intelligent for the job, he said the job was purely concerned in getting advertising space filled, he said I’d be working with a lot of people very junior to myself and who certainly wouldn’t be on the same academic level. He said he needed people to get the job done and were going to stick in the position long-term.

What strikes me is that I didn’t really make a decision on the matter, I had previously championed the cause of the marginalised that these publications outright vilified, I went to the interview cap in hand and I would have bowed to their instruction, policy and procedure just to end this episode of unemployment and lack of stakeholder-ship in society.
The Sun newspaper

I’d love to report that I had looked Satan straight in the eye and said “Not on my watch”, but the decision was made for me and they found that I was not one of them.