Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Dear Journalism Student
Dear Journalism Student,

I love your enthusiasm and your interest in my agency's work. I am so glad you came to me - little old uneducated me of all people! - to help you with your assignment: "Write a News Article About Something That Interests You".

I want to help you. Really, I do. But there are one or two tiny teeny little things you could do to make this arrangement between us just a tad better. I like to put them in a list - will that work for you too, sweetie?

  1. Gosh, your story idea is very exciting! So exciting that it seems unfair not to share it with your whole tute group. What's that pumpkin? You already told some of them? Golly, that would explain why I've had three almost identical requests this week! Be a pet and try to keep the next one to yourself, won't you?
  2. Even a cadet-trained journo like me knows how hard it is these days to get into a journalism course in an Australian uni - - wait! what's that? You're in Journalism/LAW?? A double degree? Wow, you must be SO smart. I bet that you're so smart they don't even care how you punctuate, do they? I'm so sorry to mention it, but I have this iddy biddy fetish about punctuation. Like, you know, I reckon it makes it possible to understand what you mean in writing. So, you clever-clogs, you'll get a lot further with me if you maybe ask a grown-up to check your apostrophes before you hit send on your email to me!
  3. Those pesky lecturers! They just don't understand how hard it is for students, do they? I mean, sometimes they give you like, what? Only three weeks to come up with a 500 word article! Crikey. You see, when you're an old fogey like me you get used to having many deadlines in just one day. I totally understand how hard it is for you to get on top of all the demands on your time, but I worry, truly I worry that I just can't help you as well as I'd like when you only send me your 15 detailed questions about spurious subjects THE DAY BEFORE YOUR ASSIGNMENT IS DUE.
  4. On those 15 questions, are they really all necessary? I'd hate to think your lecturer might doubt that you'd done the full quota of work required for your story - could she maybe think it had all been cobbled together from the answers I've provided you with no real effort on your part? Just concerned for you, little one.
  5. And again with the 15 questions, there is an excellent chance you could have cut it down to three if you had maybe used the surprisingly efficient search function on the same website where you found my name and number... It's called 'research' and I know they don't teach you that until third year but it's never too early to build up brownie points with your tutors, you know!
  6. Given you chose me and my agency for this very special, high profile thing we do every year in October, I'm wondering how much free time you think I have in September? Do the maths, honey, and call me in February.
  7. Why would I need free time to answer your very special set of questions (your 'interview' as you endearingly call it in your email)? Well, that would be because my boss, he's such a sweetheart, actually pays me to answer questions from REAL journalists. Yeah, the ones you know as total sell-outs and lackeys of the capitalist running dogs. So, it sucks heaps, but I am afraid I have to give the professional journalists priority over your interview request. Bugger, hey? But listen, the upside is that, when you graduate and you totally sell-out, YOU get priority and that will be way cool, yes?
  8. Citing an unsourced accusation and then asking me "What has (my agency) got to say about that?" is not really a great question. Chances are, my answer will be "Nothing" and then where are we? Back to that big awkward silence that you stammered through the first time I told you that you seemed to be confusing fact and hearsay... But keep trying, chicken, 'cause you nearly got me on "When did you stop beating your wife?"
  9. While we're thinking about spurious subjects, can we please remember that I am Doing You A Favour? It's just not polite to ask me to criticise my own organisation while they're still paying me. But - just because you're so darn cute - I'm sure I can find you someone who's recently quit who will spill the beans. We shot John Lennon, you know.
  10. Fuck off. Oops, did I say that out loud? Ok, you can quote me on that one.



(latest sulky blogstrike appears to be over, thanks for the cheer squad and I really sincerely hope none of you are journalism students. Because then I'd have to kill you.)


Blogger Kim said...

These people are obviously flatmates to the interns we have over at our place. You know that free labour which isn't so free when you realise you have to put up with this fashion coathangers with an opinion on everything. I much prefer your response, mine was just to feel old, haggard and jaded.

Blogger Joke said...


Feels like home again.


Blogger nutmeg said...

You're back! And in excellent form. Please don't leave us again - your blog is my link to the old working world I sometimes "enjoyed". Though I am feeling your elevated stress levels from here. What would we do without RSM and your other gems?

Blogger Surfing Free said...

Ha hahahah!! I am an ex-journalism student and I admit to thinking the world revolved around me and my (pathetic) assignments .... but now I would just hang up the phone if one came crawling to me for some boring and time consuming interview!!!

Hey Kim, at least you get some value out of yours - even if it just to gaze upon their clotheshorsiness.

Joke, mate, you're welcome.

Nutmeg, I'll make a special effort for RSM this week but may have something even more thrilling (to me anyway) to post on Friday night!

And SF - oh, yes, you've picked the attitude all right. This post started as a real work letter that I was going to store away to be sent as a polite refusal to all further requests. As you see, my inner shrew took over and I was physically incapable of writing the work letter in the right tone until I got all this bile out of my system - in the nicest possible way, sweeties!

Honestly though, they drive me mad and the number of requests is climbing sharply. I have to act now before they all realise I'm a soft touch!

Anonymous sueeeus said...

You must be famous! All those requests from the mobarazzi. And how dare they not punctuate. To think. You're a saint to read their entire request, rather than delete it after the first punctuation mishap.

Blogger Joke said...

Compose a form letter to the effect that due to some experimental psychotropic medication you have been requested to forego interviews, commentary, replies or any other public expression of opinion.

You may also try to work in a discreet mention of the dead vagrants you've interred in your cellar.


Blogger Badger said...

Um, well, I have a DEGREE in journalism. Does that count? I never had to actually talk to anyone when I was a student, though, because my concentration was in advertising. And if I ever needed quotes for anything, I just made them up.

Blogger Joke said...


I think it means your danger has passed.


Absolutely - Badger and any other graduated grown-ups need not fear my wrath. Neither should any journalism students who make their quotes up rather than bothering me for real ones. Since most of the real reporters I deal with seem happy to make up quotes, I don't see why pretend journalists think they're entitled to authenticity.

Anonymous dorothy said...

I was guilty of the same thing, except in PR. I got a blog-related request from a junior PR staffer who spelled "sincerely" wrong.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot handle people who can't spell or make constant grammatical errors. I know that english is a dead hard language to learn and all, but really....and it goes double for the people who make twice what I do.

I'm so glad I didn't bother to complete my schooling. If THAT is indicative of what I would have been. I was safely hidden in the plain old english department however-wouldn't go near journalism...


Blogger h&b said...

I used to make up my own psych stats at Uni.

I still don't trust stats - I assume they've been compiled by someone else like me after quick "B+" rather than any real interest or input in the methodology.

Likewise quotes.

It's not neccessary to do the work when you can fake it, right ?

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