Chapter 251

Dongwook waved goodbye to the distant manager Yoo. Manager Yoo was returning to the TV station with his hands holding a plastic bag in each hand and the contents were all bought with Dongwook’s own money.

“Tsk.”

Dongwook’s smile disappeared. He managed to induce manager Yoo to reveal the facts, but he could not see any hope of an exchange. An exchange only happened when each party knew what the other party wanted. However, that inflexible manager Yoo was loyal to his company until the end. Meaning, he did not want to reap profits from the news.

The offer Dongwook proposed to manager Yoo was simple. He asked manager Yoo for the name of the member that was cast in the movie. From the moment a rumor became a fact, it would have value. Dongwook thought about talking to a management-level personnel in the company behind TTO before he wrote the article. Usually, the company would respond in one of two ways.

The first response would be when the company cannot reveal the name of the member due to a non-disclosure agreement. In this case, the company would pay him to keep it in secret. The second response would be when it wouldn’t matter even if it was known to the public. In this case, he could just write the article and post it. He would then receive his manuscript fee and the extra pay for the article being exclusive.

In either case, he would be earning money, so he said that he would give some of the profits to manager Yoo, but he was rejected.

“Should I just post?”

Dongwook took out a cigarette and put it in his mouth. It was easy to post the article. The editor was blinded by money. The article would be given the okay without even a single edit once it was deemed profitable. However, the problem came afterwards. The company behind TTO might take action.

“I can’t do that.”

He spat out a sigh that was mixed with smoke. There was no fool in this world that would start a losing fight. Dongwook wanted to maintain a symbiotic relationship with the company behind TTO. Though, they wouldn’t see it as a symbiotic relationship but a parasitic one.

In the old days, journalists had power beyond imagination. In the days when newspapers were the only sources of the news, journalists were treated as VIPs regardless of whether they specialized in entertainment, political, or economical journalism. There were times when a single article from a journalist finished off the career of a bigshot politician, or ruined a popular celebrity. In those days, the tip of their pens had power.

However, as time passed, the glorious days of journalists met its end. Information became more accessible than before. The reason why journalists had power was because they could add their own opinions on top of the facts. They could use their opinion to cause a dramatic shift in the opinions of the general populace. However, ever since the introduction of the internet, the authority that journalists possessed decreased dramatically. Other than a few journalists that staked their lives to write articles against the government in the past, very few journalists received good treatment in the recent years.

On top of that, the quality and the nature of the articles changed as well. Before, articles received praise for the deep consideration of the words used and the intent behind it, but now, speed was everything. No matter how great an article was, once it was posted on the internet, it would instantly be copied and pasted before being posted somewhere else. In the newspaper era, companies required a whole day to catch up with other companies on some exclusive news, but now, it was done within mere minutes.

With that being the case, what would the journalists themselves feel about their articles being copied and pasted somewhere else and lose that ‘exclusive’ title even after all their painstaking effort to create it?

They thought that the era of depth was over, and that now was the era of speed.

The result of that was the birth of private internet news companies. Even the big 3 news companies were constantly refreshing each other’s websites to scour for news. As soon as something went up, the articles would be copied with the header ‘some other media claims’.

However, speed wasn’t enough to receive the clicks of the viewers. Without clicks, the company would lose ad revenue and eventually go out of business. As such, they now poured more effort into making titles. The journalists did all the hard work, so the next task at hand was to quickly monopolize the clickbait titles and attract attention from the readers.

Dongwook once also aspired to be a ‘true’ journalist. He grew up watching journalists that saved scapegoats that were unjustifiably deemed political criminals and resolved that he would one day too become someone like that. This was why he prepared for the journalist exam and eventually passed it. When he practically lived in police stations as a crime journalist, he realized that it was far from his ideal journalist life, but he endured, thinking that it was because he was just a new recruit. He had faith that he would eventually be able to get closer to the police and work with them to write good articles. His thoughts didn’t change even when his probation ended and was given a proper job to do and was able to make a living off his job. He thought that he was still capable of writing a passionate article. He frequented police stations and fire stations like it was his own house to write articles. Although his articles were small and were very insignificant compared to the rest, he couldn’t feel more proud than seeing his name at the end of his section.

Like that, he slowly climbed the ladder of success and believed that he would one day be like his senior journalist, until one day, due to a coincidence, he looked back at himself. He was absent-mindedly sketching out a story about an incident that his seniors had instructed him to in front of the computer. His pen was no longer writing about the pains of the public that was hidden under huge scandals that everyone focused on. He was not writing articles that changed the views of the public but just an updated version of the article posted the day before.

His first article to feature the ‘exclusive’ title was about a man who intruded on a popular celebrity’s private life. When he was still writing the article, he felt that he had finally done something for the public, but when some time had passed, he saw that what he had written was a huge piece of crap.

‘What do I want to write’ - flashed by in his head, turning over everything he thought was ‘normal’. He seriously thought about it and resolved that he should start again with a renewed mind.

Like that, another two years had passed, and Dongwook discovered that he had become a self-protectionist. His monthly salary as a TV station journalist kept piling in his savings account, and just watching the number rise became his sole happiness. He sighed when he saw his colleagues teaching the juniors about the ‘journalist mindset’. He even talked behind their back, saying that they lived a hard life. After seeing his slogan, ‘True Journalist’, which was at the corner of his desk, stained with coffee, he threw it away. He didn’t even wonder what made him like this. He even rejoiced a little when he was transferred from the general section to the culture section. After all, he was removed from those headachy incidents.

A stable job - that was what journalism meant to Dongwook, nothing more. He didn’t even have a sense of crisis about it anymore. He just accepted it as something natural. Reaching the age of retirement before actually retiring became his dream when he was put in charge of a few people in probation. There was a murder case that shook the entire country but there were no longer any of his seniors in the general section.

Hearing orders from the head manager, he went to meet those little chicklings. When he saw that they were burning with passion while looking around the TV station, he smiled in self-loathing. He instructed them as he thought that they would eventually turn out to be like him.

Not long later, Dongwook quit his job. He was unable to comprehend what was happening even as he was handing in the letter of resignation. He would no longer have a source of income once he left, yet his body was already cleaning up his desk at the station. The trigger that made him decide to leave was nothing special. He just saw a probationary journalist being hospitalized after being reckless. It was nothing special. After all, that rookie was sent to the police station the day after. This kind of matter was commonplace. It would instead be strange to stay healthy while being a crime journalist. Dongwook had decided to resign after seeing such a common scene.

He had no clear vision of the future nor did he have any plans. It wasn’t that he dreamed once again of being a ‘true journalist’ when he was in his 30s. That kind of dream had already disappeared into the deepest abyss of his mind.

Then why did he leave?

Dongwook couldn’t answer that himself. However, the thought that he could not live with the money given to him by his company filled his mind, which drove him to leave.

After he left, he lived with the money he saved up for a while. He had no family to support, so he was actually quite well off. However, after fooling around for half a year, he was starting to become worried.

After wondering what he could do again to make a living, he started journalism again, because that was the only thing he could do. Of course, he did not have any of the ideals that he started the job off with. His only aim was to make a living for himself.

Some of his acquaintances asked him why he left his previous company if he was going to start working in the same field again, but what frustrated Dongwook was that even he didn’t know the answer. He had no dreams, nay, he had thrown away those dreams, yet he did not know what made him resign from his job that paid him well.

And now, Dongwook had become one of many journalists that chased after celebrities.

“Should I probe them out just in case?”

Dongwook flicked his cigarette and took out his phone.

* * *

“Then let’s leave that at that.”

Park Narim, president of NL Company, made a smile of satisfaction. People frequently used the term ‘Big 3’ to refer to the 3 entertainment companies that pretty much monopolized the industry. Yellow Star, Jewel Entertainment, and NL Company. Although JA Productions was showing its edge recently, it was still ways off until they built a full infrastructure.

Narim had raised numerous artists in the past decade and focused all of her know-how into TTO, and set the stage so that TTO would be the topic of conversation when talking about the best idol of the era. She went as far as to bow down to the producers of TV stations and even give presents to the staff members on their birthdays to have her own people go on camera, and the results were starting to show.

The only idol artist group that managed to sell a million copies of their album CD in this era where CDs were on the decline was TTO. Moreover, she had just set the schedule for TTO’s introduction in Japan in one of the best TV shows there. Right now, the media was all over this new ‘Korean Wave’ thing. Japan, who Korea was usually hostile towards, was attracting a lot of interest, and the same thing was happening in Japan as well. As long as this new market could be made use of, she would get her hands on a huge amount of money that she could never dream of making in South Korea. Narim believed that that step would be the first step for NL Company to become the single best company in South Korea.

Narim’s dream was for her company to become the number one entertainment company that every aspiring entertainer living in Korea would want to enter, not a company exclusively catered towards idol artists. Right now, idols were treated as just eye candy in the entertainment industry. Moreover, companies behind idols had less power than the ones that possessed superstar actors. As long as she was able to change that trend, as long as idols filled the places for the star actors, it would be an easy thing for her to change the image of her company. As such, Narim decided to make a bold move.

Idols in movies.

In the movie industry, idols were the icons of failure. Ever since three years ago, idols with hundreds of thousands of fans started shooting movies, but their popularity was always rock bottom. From that time onwards, the rumor that movies with idols as the main character would always fail started floating around. It was ‘proven’ that the barrier of horrible acting couldn’t be filled by fandom alone.

From there, Narim saw an opportunity instead. The breakthrough point always lied in the middle of the problem. She looked for aspiring actors and had them become idols instead. TTO was a general-purpose idol group. Dancing and singing were just the basics, and acting was included in their evaluation criteria as well. She signed a partnership with one of the best acting schools in Gangnam, ‘Film’, to raise ‘actor idols’. Of course, the other companies were doing similar things, but narim believed that she was the most meticulous and the quickest.

“This debut will be the turning point of our company. You know that, right, head manager Choi?”

“Yes.”

Idols were all about their image. Without their image, there would be nothing left. Narim had no thoughts on repeating the failures that the previous pioneers had made. She wouldn’t let an idol start at the top, but from the bottom, as an extra. She would attract attention from the public through the idol’s acting skills.

The information revealed to the public regarding ‘Who Gave the Elder His Hammer’ did not contain the news about the participation of a member of TTO. She had asked to leave it out on purpose. The fact that Sungjae of TTO was debuting in a movie had to be done by the audience. As such, she was planning to not reveal the information until the day it was released. After all, silence was sometimes the best method of advertising.

“Oh, president. A journalist had called saying that he wants to speak to you.”

“A journalist?”

Narim pouted slightly. Head manager Choi was a capable man. He would not make useless reports. The fact that he made this report meant that it was something that he deemed that the decision wasn’t up to him.

“Give me your phone.”

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