When Crikey revealed that the NAB has snagged principled journo, Jill Singer, an outraged subscriber has sprung to her defence lamenting the state of journalism in the country.

Jill Singer joins the bank cartel payroll

Subscriber email – 22 February

We all learnt what should have been a valuable lesson from the 1999 cash for comment revelations that exposed the Australian banking cartel for what it was – a ruthless and hugely profitable operation which happily paid whoever was necessary to maintain its lucrative government-licenced franchise.

In this case it was to be $1.5 million for John Laws to spruik how wonderful our gouging banks and their $10 billion-plus a year in profits were for the Australian community.

From this point on, Crikey and some other journalists vowed never to be lured in by the cartel in any way. Yet we sat back and watched profits double again over the next six years as the Howard Government enjoyed millions of dollars in donations from banks and did nothing to protect the community which was being ruthlessly exploited.

It is in this context that we can reveal the Herald Sun’s token lefty columnist, former Victorian 7.30 Report and Today Tonight host Jill Singer, has accepted the gig of hosting and presenting National Australia Bank’s internal video and television operation.

Singer started with National Vision about a month ago and will continue to write for the Herald Sun, but don’t hold your breath for a ferocious attack on what is arguably the world’s most lucrative banking sector.

Crikey’s cheap shot at Singer

A subscriber replies:

It’s easy to criticise seasoned journalists such as Jill Singer for taking the corporate dollar but perhaps it would be more useful to look at why the likes of Singer can no longer earn a proper living out of journalism.

Singer’s decision to go in-house at the NAB says more about the sorry state of the media than it does about any ethical shortcomings on Jill’s part.

Jill Singer has a track record in journalism that few of her peers could match.

It would be hard to name more than a handful of journos who could equal Jill for uncompromising courage, tenacity and integrity.

Unlike 90% of the flakes who call themselves journalists, Jill has gone to the barricades over principle and ethics, and she’s paid the price.

Jill has a reputation in the trade for standing on principle, for being intolerant of incompetence and for not suffering fools (which would put her at odds with a good deal of management at the ABC, News Ltd & Fairfax.)

When you have a reputation like that, it’s hard to hold down a full-time gig. Media organisations might call on you from time to time because of your uncompromising views. It’s a welcome relief from the monotonous dross served up by the dutiful drones on the full-time pay roll.

They might even give you a regular column as a token foil to the usual redneck chorus, but they’ll never give you a permanent birth.

Given your track record for causing trouble – which means just doing your job in a fearless and professional manner – management can’t allow you the security of a full-time gig.

They fear you might use the certainty of a weekly wage to start mucking up again, doing things like actually breaking real news stories, the kinds of stories that actually make a difference, the kinds of stories that might upset management’s mates.

If you have that kind of reputation, it’s either impossible to hold down a gig in mainstream media or you simply can’t bear being beholden to the bastards.

Corporate work might sound like a sell-out, but it’s actually a much more honest way to make a buck. No one’s pretending to be objective, no one’s pretending to stand on high moral ground, no one’s pretending that the public interest comes first. There’s a product to flog or some corporate spin to convey, you agree on a price, you do the job, you get paid, amen, no emotional baggage to carry home.

There’s no endless arguments with dead-shit superiors who refuse to run your exclusive about the government lying because they’re too busy demonising the marginal and the powerless.

You can fight this stuff all the way into middle age until your health and relationships suffer, you don’t have a secure roof over your head and your too angry and agitated to sleep soundly in your bed.

In the end you have to get a life. It may be a long way short of ideal but at least it’s a life unburdened by the hypocrisy of a trade that claims to uphold ideals but habitually trashes them.

A journalist like Jill Singer doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone or make excuses for her latest career move. It’s the media’s loss that she’s going corporate but as no one is making it worth her while to do otherwise, good luck to her.

(Name Withheld)