Choose your adventure: as an investigative journalist, reporting on the EU withdrawal bill.
A bill has begun its passage through the dank and spider-haunted corridors of Parliament. Once passed, it will ratify Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.
This is a seismic event for the country – and will usher in unprecedented legal, constitutional, and economic challenges. Fate beckons. Will it lead to doom; or glory?
You are an investigative journalist. An era-defining moment has arrived. You now have the opportunity to report on the complex issues which will shape the course of peoples’ lives, for better or worse; over many years to come.
Choose your adventure!
(1) It is day one. The government has brought its musty and cantankerous bill to Parliament – making lots of vague and offhand assurances about their intentions; while demanding public support.
If you want to spend the week exploring what the suspicious-looking Prime Minister is doing, proceed to 2.
If you want to spend twenty minutes writing a ponderous commentary, complaining that the Leader of the Opposition inexplicably refuses to pull the big lever which stops Brexit, proceed to 2.
(2) A report has come to light – chronicling high-level meetings of government ministers, with furtive lobbyists; who have a vested interest in pursuing shifty trade deals.
If you think this is extremely important, and want to inquire into the backgrounds and motives of the people involved, go to 3.
If you want to write a lengthy comment piece bemoaning Brexit, without specifying the reasons why it’s such a bad idea, go to 3.
(3) An obscure website has documented how think-tanks, and their secretive donors, have exploited the corruption of mainstream politics – to get what they want from politicians; who seem strangely enthusiastic about meeting their demands. Many of these people are in regular contact with government ministers, who currently preside over Brexit policies.
Do you want to spend a lot of time and effort tracking down who is involved in this lobbying campaign; and attempt to discern what they’re up to? If so, proceed to 4.
If you would prefer to knock together a diffuse article, contending that Russia’s government controls world events using Facebook adverts, proceed to 4.
(4) A shady group, which seems to be suspiciously well-funded, by inscrutable backers – and finds it noticeably easier to gain media attention than any similar entity – stages a protest against Brexit, at a small political festival. The protesters urge the Leader of the Opposition to stop Brexit; without explaining how this can be achieved. Moreover, the same group has also been flattering several government MPs – who pledged to vote against the EU withdrawal bill; but then went back on their word.
If you think it is worthwhile examining how disreputable people are using front-groups to manipulate democracy, from both sides of the Brexit spectrum, head for 5.
If you would prefer not to think too hard about this, and simply grant the group blanket coverage – while taking its incoherent claims at face value – go straight to 5.
(5) While walking home one night, a masked stranger limps into view – emerging from the misty shadows; pressing a clammy briefing note into your hand. After they vanish back into the gloom, you notice that the note contains conveniently arrayed quotes. These are deprecatory about one politician; while dolloping globules of mucilaginous praise on another political figure – who is renowned for walking with a pronounced limping gait.
If you want to look further into these claims, and spend a day verifying their level of accuracy, go to 6.
If you want to rush straight into print, in order to beat your rivals to this nifty scoop, go to 6.
(6) A dubious entity has organised a protest march, calling for another referendum on EU withdrawal. You recognise some of the organisers’ names as people who lobbied for the initial EU referendum – and suspect that their motives may not be entirely selfless. Your suspicion increases, when you hear a number of protesters castigating the leader of a party which is not in government – and blaming him for the government’s actions: even though he spent the previous week voting against them.
If you want to spend several hours carefully researching the credentials of this group; and ask people how they can justify campaigning for one referendum – then reject its outcome, and demand another vote – go to 7.
If you want to write a cursory article, rhetorically questioning where the Leader of Opposition was – despite knowing full well he was at a refugee camp; and querying why he is not demanding something, which contravenes his own party’s agreed policy – even though the explanation could not be more glaringly obvious – go to 7.
(7) You have spent a year writing commentaries bemoaning the Leader of the Opposition’s approach to the EU withdrawal bill; while feting disgruntled backbench government MPs – despite the misgivings other people expressed about all of this. Your predictions then turned out to be egregiously misplaced. You suddenly realise – you’ve been trapped in a hall of mirrors all along! Everything you thought you knew now stands confounded. Up seems down – left looks right. You simply cannot tell fact from fiction.
If you want to smash the mirrors, and observe reality once again – dutifully reporting what is actually in front of you, despite its complex and unsettling nature – go to A.
If you would prefer to give the mirrors a polish, while spending time admiring your own appearance – and maintain the agreeable kaleidoscope of distortion, which lends your fanciful narratives a politically convenient veneer of realism – go to B.
(A) Doom. You have reached the end of the internet. Your journey is over. There is no way forward. No escape is possible. The web has collapsed – and the electronic supply is rapidly depleting. There is no career ladder in sight. Turn back, and start again. This time, doing journalism the easy way.
(B) Glory. You have been entirely justified at every turn – with minimal time and effort. Your decision-making has been imperious. You have said one thing, then the opposite, and still managed to stand completely vindicated by events. Everyone who has cheeked you on Twitter – and openly doubted your abilities, as a serious analyst of politics – owes you a big apology. So says a written testimony in the hall of mirrors; and it has never steered you wrong, to date.