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24 Apr, 2018 16:04

'Everyone is tired of MSM': A London encounter that showed why RT's work matters

'Everyone is tired of MSM': A London encounter that showed why RT's work matters

Last week in London, I was visiting a residential area outside the city center to catch up with a friend who I hadn’t seen in half a year.

We had ventured out for a meal, not far from her home, on one of those wonderful London streets where the mix of restaurants matches the cultural mix of the locals. An amazing Italian place is followed by an amazing Thai place, which is followed by an amazing Lebanese place, all within a few steps of one another.

Here, I have to say that my friend is light years removed from my world of 24-hour news cycles, politics, info-wars, etc. For once, I was having a night out, (mostly) not talking about work, not having to be an unofficial spokesperson for all issues related to Russia, just by the virtue of being Russian myself (if nearly 20 years of living abroad has taught me anything, it is that one does not have to work at RT to be held personally responsible for all the deeds of my government and most of Russian history; unless I condemn them all summarily and unequivocally).

Nevertheless, of course, we talked about Russia. We talked about everything from weather, to food, from families to dachas.

As we were getting the bill, the manager came up and asked whether I was from Russia. I said ‘Yes.’ Then, apropos of nothing, she said how much she loved and appreciated RT.

Wait, what?

At first I was a bit taken aback. Was someone eavesdropping on my private night out? Had I even mentioned RT over dinner? My friend certainly knows what I do and where I work, which is why – in the context of our chat – even if we had discussed what I’d been up to work-wise, there would have been little need for me to mention my employer by name. 

I asked the lady, just to clarify, whether she was referring to something my friend and I had said about RT that evening. It was her turn to be surprised. No, she said, she just made the association with me being Russian and RT being a channel from Russia.

So, I decided to tell her who I was. What came next surprised all the more. In my friend’s words, she'd "never seen someone being fan-girled like this."

The lady proceeded to talk about RT being the only channel to tell the truth, how tired everyone was of the mainstream media narratives, their “fake news” (direct quote), about how nobody was buying into them anymore, whether the news was about the UK or Gaza. She said that she couldn’t wait to tell her family and friends about meeting me.

I could not help but tear up.

I have managed RT’s external communications, including media relations, for several years now. My workday begins (and often ends) with perusing press coverage of our network and, given the MSM dominance of Western print and airwaves alike, this rarely fills my days with sunshine and unicorns. It is all too easy to get sucked into the vortex of negativity and all too tempting to give up on what is important.

This is why stories like this matter. These are the moments – at once little and big, and altogether entirely unexpected – that reaffirm one’s commitment to doing what is right. For RT, that means reporting untold stories, giving a platform to ignored voices, bringing an alternative perspective to people all around the globe. We do this in the hope that by creating a more complete picture of the world we can make it a better, saner, safer one.

A single experience like this is more powerful than a thousand articles demonizing the work of hundreds of brave and honest journalists just for daring to ask inconvenient questions or state inconvenient facts.

And, for this experience I give big, big thanks to the amazing lady at one amazing restaurant in London – and to every one of our viewers, every one of our readers, who – day in and day out – help all of us at RT maintain the conviction to question more.  

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.