How To Be A Modern Journalist

Of the roughly millions of imaginary readers of my blogs, I receive about 3000 imaginary e-mails a day, asking me for advice on a wide variety of subjects.

I recently received just such an e-mail from a High School Senior at Colon High School, Colon, Mich. Millicent Nederhose asked me not to use her real name, so out of respect for her privacy, let’s just call her “Slagathor”.

Slagathor’s e-mail reads as follows:
“Dear Mr. Poindexter (I decided not to use my real name either),

I read, like, nearly everything you post, and, like, I was wondering, like, if you can tell me how to, like, be a T.V. Journalist?

Like, your devoted fan,
‘Slagathor’ (Not her real name)”

Here is my response to this forward thinking young woman:

Dear ‘Slagathor’,

Let me be the first to congratulate you on your career choice! Journalism School can be tough. Not all Journalism Majors make it to the big leagues.

I appreciate you asked me in stead of someone who actually is a Journalist, or teaches Journalism, or even has a college degree, or has at least driven through the parking lot of a Junior College on his way to Wal-Mart.

Having none of those qualifications, I will be happy to guide you through a preliminary hurdle that should show you if Journalism is the right choice for you.

I want you to know that I have already done a great deal of research (a term you might hear in Journalism school) on this topic. This week, I have been watching endless hours of in-depth T.V. Journalism. From this research, I have developed a short quiz that, I believe, will help you know of you can make the cut to the “Breaking News” world of T.V. Journalism.

Just relax, take a deep breath, and do your level best. There are 3 multiple choice questions, with the answer following each question. Please choose YOUR best answer to the question before reading the answer derived from my in-depth research.

Q1) Define ETHICS

A) Doing the Right Thing, for the Right Reason, at the Right Time.

B) ETHICS? Isn’t that, like, a racist question?

C) A sauce you sprinkle on your salad that helps you lose those extra 5 pounds.

ANSWER: B. If you answered ‘C’, you need to know that fake sprinkles are marketed everyday that make you believe anything, like, if you use this stuff, you will no longer need Viagra. If you answered ‘A’, you have no business being in Journalism.

Q2) You are the first “On The Spot” reporter to to the scene of a terrible accident. You see that 98 year old Griselda Haskins has been run over by a 1965 Buick. You notice that after the Buick had run over poor Mrs. Haskins, the car careened over the curb and smashed into the front window of a Starbucks. Tired of being an “On The Spot” reporter, and realizing that, what you do next will determine whether you finally get to be an “Anchor” (Another Journalism Term), you do one of the following things:

A) Render First Aid until the ambulance arrives, securing your position as the first “On The Spot” reporter who gets to interview Poor Old Mrs. Haskins and the Police.

B) You step over the prone body of the widow, Mrs. Haskins, to ask the driver how he feels knowing he ruined a perfectly good Starbucks.

C) You order a Latte with extra foam and pretend to do A & B.

ANSWER: ‘C’. If you answered ‘A’ you clearly have no grasp of the priorities of the Journalistic profession. Drop your pencil and leave now. If you answered ‘B’, you are destined to remain an “On The Spot” reporter.

Q3) You have finally made Anchor. Seconds before you go “live” (That is TV talk for being on the air), your editor/producer hands you some “Breaking News” that you KNOW is factually inaccurate. Your future as an Anchor is on the line. You do one of the following:

A) Report the truth. Your Journalistic Integrity and High Ethical Standards will let you do nothing less than tell the truth. The viewers deserve nothing less from you.

B) You don’t care because you get paid the same no matter what you report.

C) You finish your latte and read whatever pops up on the Teleprompter.

ANSWER: ‘C’. If you answered ‘B’, you return to your former job of “On The Spot Reporter”. If you answered ‘A’ you clearly have no future in any form of Journalism.

I hope, Slagathor, this little quiz has been helpful. You can see, now, that Journalism adheres to a standard that not even New Orleans Prostitutes can lower themselves to. Very few people have what it takes to be a T.V. Journalist.

One last thing, Slag. If you don’t look like a super-model, you don’t stand a chance of ever being in front of a camera. Looks matter more than anything in Television Journalism. You don’t even have to pay close attention to what you are doing if you are attractive and can read a teleprompter. The same holds true for Politicians.


Peter Poindexter (Not My Real Name).


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