There are so many layers to this thing we do that it sometimes gets scary.
Not death-threat level scary. I haven’t handled a story big enough to prompt some politician or drug lord (or both, in the same person) to call someone to call someone to call me. It’s more of a feeling that there are more things going on than what can be said in a couple of hundred words.*
You might, for an example from real life, write about a controversial freeport zone in Central Luzon and then get a message a friend asking whether you are part of a campaign to discredit a senatorial candidate associated with that freeport. It was a question asked in good faith, too. Asked along the lines of “I know what you’re up to. *Wink, wink*.”
What I was up to–and this is true even in my heart of hearts–was writing about a press conference held by critics of that freeport. My friend told me, though, that such a campaign exists and that it is rooted in a political rivalry that began long before either of us were reporters. Nothing to do with me or the website I contribute to, but a good thing to know.
Within a few minutes, a call from a friend at the office of that senatorial candidate asking me about the story and then asking me to be fair.*** A few minutes after that, a call from an official spokesman and documents in my e-mail and me banging out several hundred words on their version of the truth.
None of this is really cloak-and-dagger stuff, of course. It’s really more of a reminder of how connected everyone is to almost everyone else in this industry. There are wheels within wheels and sometimes it’s easy to be mistaken for a cog.
*Which, of course, is a pretty obvious thing to say outside of the first week of Humanities I**
** A college course that no longer exists, apparently.
***Which, in actual fairness, I had been. I got in touch with them for comment but got no response.