Hear me now and believe me later in the week: Mayhem, crackpots and craziness is always more entertaining than the boring business of actually making the trains run on time and hot water coming out of the faucet when you turn the knob with a big H on it, though reporters do cover those stories, because they are important, and it’s their civic duty, and we should thank them for risking their lives with the mayhem and risking their sanity reading Draft Environmental Impact Reports.
I know, for I have a journalism degree and wrote many stories at papers of news.
A hot city council meeting is when the gadfly who always shows up to kvetch about property taxes during the public comment sections yammers too long and has to be gaveled down and maybe, just maybe, you think he’s gonna keep talking anyway, just to see what Little Mr. Mayor can do if the gadfly keeps flapping his lips.
You start to wonder if the mayor will step from behind the podium and the gadfly will get in his face and they’ll start the ancient junior high ritual of chest bumping followed by bellowing followed by pushing and maybe a haymaker.
You begin to hope, deep in your soul, that all that may happen, just to liven things up, that the gadfly will insult the mayor’s ancestry and the mayor will punch him in the schnauz before the police chief wrestles them all to the ground and YOU GET IT ALL ON FILM.
This is every reporter’s dream, as they sit through another boring city council meeting that seems like it will never end.
Then the gadfly runs out of steam and sits down. Nothing happens. So you trundle back to the newsroom and pound out a zoning story which the city planner’s mom will clip out and put on the fridge.
Which begs the question: how can you attract reporters to your not-so-exciting book signing and whatnot?
One solution is to guarantee fisticuffs. Another, better way of having reporters showing up is to make sure they know THERE WILL BE FOOD. Always, always have coffee and munchies at any press event. Always.
Reporters make tiny bits of monies, because they do this job for love. On good days, they subsist on Top Ramen plus free donuts and coffee at press conferences. On bad days, they eat the greasy cardboard boxes that once contained pizza.
So be kind to journalists. It’s a tough business these days, after 15,000 folks got laid off from newspapers in America, and even now, with the economy bouncing back, newspapers are still hurting. Journalists don’t make a lot of money. We need them. All of us. Without reporters and editors, 90 percent of the professional content on the Series of Tubes would disappear.
Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.
Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.