Here at the Siuslaw News (Motto: Your dependable source for news. Twice weekly. Unless we lose count), we journalists steadfastly adhere to a strict code when it comes to gathering important national news.
And that code is this: We will never, under any circumstances, have the budget for an Associated Press wire service membership.
Hence, we do not receive hourly updates from news sources around the globe. If we feel the need to go beyond the local scope of a story, we must do so the old-fashioned way, by grabbing our pad and pen (which most of us are pretty good about sharing) and making phone calls until, eventually, another journalist with access to a wire service mistakenly answers their phone.
The conversation usually goes something like this:
“News desk, this is Scott.”
“Hi Scott! It’s Ned!”
“I’m on a deadline.”
“As a fellow journalist, I completely understand the kind of pressure you’re under.”
“No you don’t. You write a weekly humor column.”
“True, but I routinely spend most of my week deleting male enhancement product offers from my e-mail. As a result, I’m an hour behind my deadline and need information on a fast-breaking story in Maine, where I believe a woman has just eaten 10 pounds of lobster meat in under 12 minutes.”
“Hello … ? Scott … ?”
Fortunately for me, I do have an actual journalist friend with access to the Associated Press wire service, who filters through the hundreds of national stories he has access to in order to give me the jump on important news items — such as a recent “clog-free-toilet” giveaway in Champion, Mich.
Thanks to my friend, I can scoop hoity-toity journalists like Brian Williams with his fancy “sources” and “facts” and “impeccable credibility” before the story can be turned into a debate on NBC’s Nightly News.
Brian Williams: “Good evening. Tonight, a controversy is swirling around American Standard, whose new ‘Champion’ toilet is guaranteed to be clog-free. Joining us now from Maine for a different perspective is Sonya Thomas, who just ate 10 pounds of lobster meat in under 12 minutes …”
Time and again I bring these examples to my editor as evidence of the kind of stories we’re missing by not being plugged into the world press network. And, time and again, she makes the same argument, which is that, unless I can show proof I’m actually employed here, I need to leave the building.
Needless to say, we have yet to become a member of the Associated Press. However, I’ve looked into the cost of purchasing my own membership, and this has prompted me to step forward and keep whining until, at some point, I develop a rash.
This brings me to another example (and perhaps my last as an employed journalist) of how national news can impact us here at the local level, i.e., an exciting treatment for diaper rash called “Boudreaux’s Butt Paste.”
Again, if not for my friend, this story would’ve fallen through the, uh… cracks.
Created by a retired Louisiana pharmacist, Boudreaux’s Butt Paste can also be used for other skin ailments such as chapped lips and jock itch — or both, should your jars somehow get mixed up.
Because there’s a chance Brian Williams could be reading this, I’d just like to say, as professionals in the highly competitive field of journalism, I’m sure getting scooped on this Butt Paste story is disappointing.
Still, I hope he can turn the other cheek.
(You can write to Ned Hickson at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at the Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR 97439.)