We’re never going to forget how badly we were betrayed. People died in the streets while news anchors made jokes about people taking their zombie movies too seriously and showed footage they claimed depicted teenagers “horsing around” in latex and bad stage makeup.
If I was still teaching journalism I would think about making Feed, by Mira Grant, a set book...
It is 2040, and the world has spent a generation coming to terms with The Rising - the nightmare of George Romero's Night of the Living Dead has come true and life for the survivors is a constant battle against zombies.
Remarkably, Grant has managed to think through this scenario to good effect, and paints a plausible picture of the politics, technology and security concerns that, not surprisingly, dominate daily life. Apart from screening and weaponry, the most valuable tool for survival is information, and in the world of Feed, this is provided by a new breed of journalists - bloggers.
The blogosphere wasn’t threatening the traditional news media, not even as it started having a real place on the world stage. They thought of us as “quaint.” Then the zombies came, and everything changed. The “real” media was bound by rules and regulations, while the bloggers were bound by nothing more than the speed of their typing.
We were the first to report that people who’d been pronounced dead were getting up and noshing on their relatives.
We were the ones who stood up and said “yes, there are zombies, and yes, they’re killing people” while the rest of the world was still buzzing about the amazing act of ecoterrorism that released a half-tested “cure for the common cold” into the atmosphere. We were giving tips on self-defense when everybody else was barely beginning to admit that there might be a problem.
When blogging first emerged as a major societal trend, it was news rendered anonymous. Rather than trusting something because Dan Rather looked good on camera, you trusted things because they sounded true.
In this future news sites employ five types of journalists:
Newsies, who report fact as untainted by opinion as we can manage, and our cousins, the Stewarts, who report opinion informed by fact. Irwins go out and harass danger to give the relatively housebound general populace a little thrill, while their more sedate counterparts, the Aunties, share stories of their lives, recipes, and other snippets to keep people happy and relaxed. And, of course, the Fictionals, who fill the online world with poetry, stories, and fantasy.
We’re the all-purpose opiate of the new millennium: We report the news, we make the news, and we give you a way to escape when the news becomes too much to handle.
The central characters are Georgia Mason, (licensed online news representative, After the End Times), and her brother Shaun. They are the adopted children of a media star parents.
I never wanted to be Lois Lane, girl reporter, even though I dressed like her for Halloween one year. I wanted to be Edward R. Murrow, facing down corruption in the government. I wanted to be Hunter S. Thompson, ripping the skin off the world. I wanted the truth, and I wanted the news, and I’d be damned before I settled for anything.
I always knew I wanted to be a journalist. When I was a kid, I thought they were the next best thing to superheroes. They told the truth. They helped people. I wouldn’t find out about the other things journalists did—the lies and espionage and back-stabbing and bribes—for years, and by that point, it was too late. The news was in my blood. Like every junkie in the world, I needed my next hit too badly to give it up. I’ve wanted nothing but the news and the truth and to make the world a better place since I was a little girl, and I never regretted it for a minute. Not until now. Because this is bigger than me, and it’s bigger than Shaun, and God, I’m scared. And I’m still a junkie. I still can’t walk away.
From Postcards from the Wall, the unpublished files of Georgia Mason, June 19, 2040