Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tabloid Wars

I worked in newspapers for nearly a good decade before I quit the WSJ to go freelance. While I was there, I covered the U.S. equities market, which is about as unexciting as it gets for a newsroom, so most of my good journalism stories come from my time at the newspapers I worked at in Little Rock, Des Moines, Washington and Nebraska. Some days as a journalist are super boring (i.e., five years of covering the U.S. equity market for the WSJ, which admittedly is probably a job a lot of people would kill for -- just not me). When I was in Des Moines, one of my jobs was to comb through all the tiny, itty bitty local papers to make sure we weren't missing anything "out there"; this job included reading the "Social columns," which often read something like this: "Henrietta Johnson, 67, of Altoona, visited her mother, Mabel Dowetta van Bockern, at the Holy Christ Jesus Rest Home of the Sleepy Lamb, in West Des Moines. The two enjoyed a Jell-O Ring and discussed the upcoming admission of Henrietta's grandson into the Iowa National Guard." (Seriously.)

Other times, you got to do stuff that was either really wacky, or at least made the adrenaline pump. I attended something called "Toad Suck Days," for instance. I chased tornadoes. I covered fires and big elections. One time, it was my job to make sure strippers at the local joints were following a new law requiring them to wear pasties. I must have been the only person in the U.S. (excluding Wall Street honchos) who were REQUIRED to attend a strip joint for work. Then of course, there was guy and his demented wife who kept a houseful (literally) of cats -- both dead and alive -- in the beliefef that it would extent their lives. One day the husband kicked off and laid on the floor for three days before anyone figured out what was going on. Cops finally showed up to a mewing herd of hungry beasts, two of whom were sitting on the dude's chest EATING HIS FACE OFF. The wife asked if they'd be able to wake him up. Good God. (Did I mention the floors were covered in six inches of cat shit?)

The point is, newsrooms can be very interesting places. If you'd like to get a taste of what it's actually like to be a journalist at a metro newspaper, I HIGHLY recommend the series Tabloid Wars on Bravo. It's a fairly accurate picture of the day to day life of a reporter, and it makes me miss it acutely. As an additional bonus, Hud Morgan resembles strongly John Krasinski, and has mannerisms and speech patterns the are EXACTLY those of my old friend Z, with whom I went to college (and who also worked in Arkansas and at the WSJ at one time or another). It's like watching one of my old friends on the old boob tube. Anyway, an entertaining hour of reality TV -- something you don't see much of anymore. Enjoy.


Blogger Guy said...

isn't hud a "funboy"? sure sounds like one.

12:40 AM  

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