News You Can't Use

As of today, after dozens of national teleconferences and numerous in-house meetings, the secrets of newspapering can be revealed. Never before has the public been exposed to how journalism really works, but there's no time like the present (even though "present" means in the future and the correct word -- ouch, damn, I'm fixing it now -- would be "current"). So there's no time like the current, the beginning of this most lovely of months, to let the rats out of the bag.

Before the war in Vietnam ended, green-visored cigar chompers enjoyed cozy relationships with their sources. JFK was left alone to screw like a carpenter, LBJ was never investigated for killing Kennedy (which he admits to in his unpublished memoirs), and reporters spent more time hanging around the cop shop than police officers and detectives did. One Pulitzer winner penned a number of crime stories that could have come only from a source deep inside the FBI. The source was deep, all right: J. Edgar Hoover, who gave the reporter a hot tip in exchange for oral sex.

Reporters are generally paid minimum wage, except at weeklies where only volunteers are accepted. At the big dailies, each worker receives an annual pay hike of ten dollars per week. However, the paper subtracts its market share (say 30 percent) from 100 and then subtracts the remainder (70 percent) from the raise, knocking it down to three dollars per week.

Saying the word "union" (or writing a pro-union story, which won't be published, of course) in the newsroom is cause for termination. Asking for a raise after achieving something notable, such as scooping everyone on the new spring fashions, automatically results in a twenty percent reduction in pay. The raise is also denied. Male staffers at Miami's daily must wear ties because the big boss is into erotic asphyxiation (he likes to choke and be choked during sex because the lack of oxygen to the brain is said to increase the intensity of the experience, unless you die, which would be a problem except that papers employ staff "fixers" who remove and dispose of corpses caused by newsroom mishaps).

The fixer at one daily had to clean up three bodies when a young writer, full of ambition and dedication, asked several "investigative" questions of a man he thought was simply in charge of a waste removal firm. The man called a contractor he worked with. The contractor called the publisher. The reporter's body was never found.

All papers have policies prohibiting the following: smoking tobacco (shooting heroin, speed, and cocaine is encouraged because they can increase productivity before killing the reporter/editor with the needle in the arm); sexual harassment except when the person being harassed holds a lower position, which is to say the sports editor can call the receptionist a hotshot piece of butter twat to her face, but if she were to wolf whistle at the assistant features editor, she'd be fired and forced to pay the paper $20,000 or face a lawsuit.

Many strange and oft horrible traditions live on at newspapers. One thing they never, ever do, under any conditions, is celebrate April Fool's Day. Have a happy! Ouch, quit hitting me boss ...

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Greg Baker