1164 Jernilist Lessins Fore Beginerites
Facts for modern journalists: If you don’t have them, speculate. But first, memorize this list.
1. The earth is flat, 6,000 years old and its climate is not changing.
2. Guns don’t kill people but the government is trying to confiscate them anyway.
3. Foreigners -- mostly Mexicans at the moment -- have invaded America and are taking it over, one school district, welfare office and Home Depot shape-up line at a time.
4. Foreigners -- mostly Middle Easterners at the moment -- have invaded America and are taking it over one Mexican at a time.
5. Everything is and everything has been a conspiracy or cover-up or both and your job is to uncover it.
6. Everyone is sneaky and has it in for you.
7. The law of gravity must be repealed.
8. Gay marriage? Well, you know who’s behind that! You can smell the sulfur fumes a mile away.
9. The national debt is killing America and the only way out is austerity.
10. If it’s on Twitter or Facebook or Google+ or MySpace, it has to be true.
Some other handy tips:
--Everyone is a victim and deprived of his rights.
--Society -- whatever that is -- is guilty of depriving him.
--Individual freedom from The Government is more important than, say, inspecting time bomb fertilizer factories more than once in 30 years or water-based oil rigs by someone who knows what to look for and actually looks.
--Corporate and government spokesmen, women and persons are thoroughly reliable and checking what they tell you will serve no purpose other than to get you beaten to the story by the guys across town.
--Any story with a dog or a little kid in it is newsworthy. Especially if the dog has three legs or the kid has some dread disease, a fighting spirit and a cheerful, “inspiring” attitude.
--The race or ethnicity of an accused criminal sought in an active manhunt does not count, even for the purpose of identification.
--All tornadoes sound like freight trains. Don’t forget to mention that if some witness doesn’t mention it in your video clip.
Tools of the trade:
--If you take notes, shred them after the story runs. If you have sound or video, get rid of it. These things can come back to haunt you if you screw up or someone thinks you wrote or broadcast the wrong thing.
--Record your interviews even if you’re a print reporter. That way you can be sure you get the quotes right, unless, of course, the interviewee says something you disagree with or dislike. (But don’t forget the get rid of it warning above.)
--The English language is full of unnecessary words. Don’t use them. Some examples: Whom, take, farther.
--Your editor or producer is a dummy. Don’t listen to what he or she says. If a change is made in your air copy, unchange it before you go on.
--Assume the mic is on so you don’t become the next Mitt Romney or Jesse Jackson.
Okay. Got all that? Great. Now go out there and get working. The public has a right to know.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
© WJR 2013