Saturday, April 12, 2008

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Serious Journalist? Take This Test and See!

Latest Newspaper Column:

Hey there, reader! Tired of your go-nowhere, do-nothing job? Want to be a part of an exciting industry where you get to go to interesting places, meet powerful people, and be one of the hip, happening, in-the-know crowd?

Well, this is your lucky day! You too can join the thrill-a-minute world of Serious Professional Journalism when you get a degree from my newest venture, the Dusty Rhoades Serious Professional Journalists School! Study at home by mail, and before you know it, you can be pontificating on television and in print on subjects like Iraq, the economy, and world affairs! You can even tell people who the next president ought to be!

"But, Dusty," you say, "I don't know anything about journalism! Or the world! In fact, I'm a complete ignoramus!"

Ha ha! Of course you are! But it doesn't matter, as you'll see when you take this simple test and see if you -- yes, you! -- might have what it takes to be a Serious Professional Journalist!

QUESTION ONE: Presidential Candidate Sen. John McCain states in a press conference that the group al-Qaeda in Iraq is sending its fighters to Iran to train, then returning them to Iraq. He immediately has to backpedal after being corrected by alleged Democrat Joe Lieberman. "Sorry," McCain says, "Iran is training extremists, but not al-Qaeda." What do you do?

(A) Question whether McCain really is ready to lead as he claims, since he doesn't realize that Iran, a Shi'ite country, is unlikely to be training a Sunni group like al-Qaeda;
(B) report the story and let the reader decide if it's important or not; or
(C) claim it's no big deal because McCain has "credibility in the bank" on foreign policy.

QUESTION TWO: Sen. Barack Obama visits Philadelphia and doesn't order a cheese steak sandwich. What do you do?

(A) Ignore it because who the heck cares what a candidate eats on the road;
(B) report it, but put that detail far down in the story as an amusing but trivial anecdote; or
(C) make a big deal for days about how this "raises questions" about whether Obama's failure to order a particular sandwich means he's "out of touch with the common people" and is a "Harvard elitist."

QUESTION THREE: You have an exclusive on-air interview with Hillary Clinton. What do you ask her about?
(A) Her current "opposition" to the Iraq war after originally voting for it;
(B) her failure to oppose immunity for telecommunication companies that broke the law in giving out information to the government; or
(C) how she stays in shape on the road.

QUESTION FOUR: John McCain says he doesn't mind if we stay in Iraq "a hundred years" or more. Later he says that what he really means is that he's OK with presence like we have in South Korea or Germany. What do you do? '
(A) Question whether this still means that McCain really doesn't have a clue what's going on if he doesn't realize how different these situations are;
(B) Point out that McCain apparently doesn't realize that we're not in danger of getting in the middle of a religious civil war in Germany and South Korea, countries which, unlike Iraq, have stable governments; or
(C) chide the Democrats for "misquoting" McCain.

QUESTION FIVE: Louisiana Sen. David Vitter's name turns up on the client list of a New Orleans escort service. Vitter admits a "terrible sin" in his past, but does not offer to resign. How long should this remain an important story?
(A) six days;
(B) two weeks;
(C) David who?

QUESTION SIX: New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's name turns up on the client list of an escort service. Spitzer admits his involvement and resigns in a few days. How long should this remain an important story?
(A) six days;
(B) two weeks;
(C) forever and ever.

If you answered all of the above questions "C," then you may have what it takes to be a Serious Professional Journalist. Serious Professional Journalists get invited to all the best Washington parties and even to barbecues with Sen. John McCain! They get all the inside information, so long as they promise never ever to reveal it because it's "off the record" (unless of course, one of your powerful friends wants to destroy the career of someone whose husband annoyed him).

And here's the best part: You never need to do anything difficult like questioning "what everybody knows"! You never have to challenge the people your colleagues have all decided to like! Leave that sort of thing to those dirty hippies and their silly "blogs."

Act now! Pick up the phone and dial the Dusty Rhoades Serious Professional Journalists School today! The number is 1-800-555-HACK.

Operators are standing by.


Bill Cameron said...

So wait. Being curious and skeptical and resistant to insidery narratives is NOT conducive to responsible journalism? Someone needs to alert the press!

becky hutchison said...

I'm bummed that I don't have the type of inquisitive (or noninquisitive in this case) mind to be a serious journalist. Gee, I didn't answer even one question with a "C". I guess I'll have to remain a poor writer instead of a responsible, serious journalist. And I was so looking forward to going to school again...even if it WAS yours, Dusty! :-) Now if you added a llama to the package, I might reconsider...