It is a fact that tea and a cookie, and sometimes a bath, heals all. Perhaps not.
I’ve been writing for an online newspaper for a few weeks. This proves to be both good and bad. My publisher last week labeled me a gladiator after production of an inordinate number of stories in a day. As an Olivia Pope devotee, he could not choose a better moniker for my descriptor. Therein lies the good. The bad–a certain political editor not thrilled with my myriad opinions. Whaaaa? I know. Color me stunned.
My career was birthed, a million years ago, in newspaper. I was a reporter, a sports writer, an editor and never was a girl more serious about career. The Norwegian came to the office more than once informing me the day was, in fact, over and the time had come to take care of him and not the news. Imagine my wonderment in discovering how much the news biz has changed.
Long, long ago articles were tapped out on typewriters. This is true. There was a time when people, still in their twenties, were not computer literate. ‘Tis true. Many a reporter cried learning mastery of the new machine. During this time, after a computer was placed on each reporter’s desk, a touch of a button spewed forth articles in the production room in neat columns with proper word breaks which were sticky on the back. Really. Reporters, in small newspapers across the country, then laid out pages using X Acto knives to make the story fit the space. Reporters could not go home until pages were laid out regardless of how long that may take. The paper was going to press in the morning. If it took all night to lay it out, reporters and editors were there all night.
This work routine explains reporter reputations for drinking, smoking cigarettes and foul mouths. Not only were they the people with the greatest grasp on the english language but they stayed up all night laying out words in perfect squares to make room for advertising. This proved much easier with cocktail in hand. If bosses were teetotalers, reporters simply poured the elixir in coffee cups and didn’t speak up. Besides, publishers went home for dinner and worked normal hours so once they left the building and doors were locked, all bets were off.
Some of us miss these days. Words were pure. News was clearly defined. Editors were grizzled and cranky and being the only girl in sports gave me a distinct advantage. Charm was a commodity not often seen on football sidelines and it wrangled in more than one interview. It was a magical time when reporters, cops and firefighters were respected. And people thought we were smart.
Fast forward to today. Since information is fingertip ready, breaking a story is as unlikely as Hillary wearing a dress or Iran following sanctions. There is little respect for the written word and Kim Kardashian’s ass is somehow news. So far, I’ve covered a girl carrying a dead baby around in her purse (no lie), a day care worker charged with infant rape, the execution of the oldest man on death row in Arizona and Emmy fashion. I’ve also monitored such important breaking news as Nicole Kidman bumped by a bicycle-riding paparazzo on a New York sidewalk, the reasons we love Olivia Pope (well, that is of utmost importance), thigh gap and Miley Cyrus’ foam finger.
News is now measured by hits; as in how many people “hit” on that story. Reporters for independent online newspapers get paid by thousands of hits, not by story quality or significance. Searches for news are based on what is trending, not what is important, by what the public craves not by what they might want to know as an informed citizenry. Opinion pages are more important as newsmakers and the more compelling a headline, the more hits a story might garner. It’s backwards to be sure and it’s tricky to find just what the public will read.
As a regular reader of this blog, you love my opinion. I know you do. I hear from you all the time. Shock reverberated through my system when a political editor, Editor Boy, called out my opinion and even dared accuse that it may not be well thought out. Whaaa? I did feel the need to inform him I was a reporter before his birth and my opinion piece was backed by fact–perhaps it just happened to be fact for which he does not care.
Since when is it not a fact that the Republican Party has a faction of wacko fringe? That’s a fact, right? Since when is it not fact that if we do not curtail the wacko fringe the party will continue to lose its way? That’s fact, right? You need fact backing–Sarah Palin. Enough? In the end, we agree to disagree although I do find his tone condescending and I am a bit miffed. Little whippersnapper who knows nothing about the old days. Look at me all old and crotchety. Most disappointing, Editor Boy has an English accent. First time in my life I’ve not found that attractive. He may have ruined the British for me. Asshat.
It did make me ponder something further. Have the English been riding that accent for all these years? Have we, in our American coarseness been so lulled by the lilt in their voices we forget we fought a war to extricate ourselves from under their thumb? Do we adore Lisa Vanderpump so much we forget our history with the Brits? Did Diana so thoroughly steal our hearts we forget heads atop posts surrounding the Tower of London? Are we so taken with Catherine and her divine little one, not to mention William, that we forget what a cad Charles was allowing Camilla to join he and Diana on their honeymoon? And is it true about their teeth?
I don’t know about you but I am suddenly feeling the urge to hurl some tea into a harbor. Pfft.