I like to think I’m a journalist like any other. But I work at the RT London office. That’s the Russian state-funded news channel.
Four days a week, I’m a straight up news reporter. But, once a week, I do an even more sinister job. On Wednesdays, I ascend an extra couple of floors to a different ‘zone’ within the RT London compound, where I join a stealthy, covert team of online propagandists.
There, in the lair of online information warfare, (six sad looking desks and quite a bit of mundane office banter) we record a short, and (we hope) funny and often expletive-laden video on a topic of entirely our choosing, satirizing the sorry state of the world.
After our team of four has decided which topic we want to address, the piece is birthed by the king of sarcasm himself, our genius writer and editor, then presented by me, directed and then put together with beautiful, bright graphics by our masterly visual editor.
The video is uploaded to our YouTube channel. The YouTube channel where – right in the About section – it says that ICYMI is brought to you by RT. RT’s website has my face, with the YouTube channel name, plastered on top of its roster of shows. The TV producers air most of the videos most weeks too. Nor is it a secret that ICYMI is a satirical channel. For God’s sake.
We’re getting decent views. There’s a bit of praise (‘I love Polly’), a fair amount of hatred (‘Putin’s slut’), and, normally something creepy ‘oh to see her poop!’
We don’t really say it to each other, but we like to think we’ve got a decent format.
And yet. According to numerous ‘investigations’, we engage in some seriously sinister activities. We’re ‘covert’. Our bright bold graphics are…dun dun dun…aimed at teenagers’. We’re ‘The Blue Peter of Russian Propaganda’, that’s Sesame Street to you Americans…no, The Mickey Mouse Club! The Mickey Mouse Club of Russian Propaganda. That’s one for the business card.
I wish we were sophisticated enough to be a covert brainwashing exercise.
Someone once commented below our videos, ‘I don’t get it, is she for or against’ whatever it was we were poking fun at that particular week.
Because we’re on the fence. All. The. Damn. Time.
We don’t tell you who to love or who to hate, what to buy, or who is right or wrong.
I know it’s hard to believe, but that’s how the project works. We satirise, and are equally harsh with anyone and anything we talk about.
But in the current political online universe, which demands that you pick your tribe, box yourself up as a lefty-liberal, an alt-righter, a Blairite at the BBC or a centre-rightist at Sky, our project doesn’t fit.
It’s a square peg in a Kremlin-star shaped hole. Which makes a lot of people uncomfortable.