Somewhere along the career path I took a wrong turn because it’s obvious the broadcast journalists are the ones having all the fun. They’re all movie star gorgeous, and they get to engage in witty banter with one another about the humidity, hair gel and what will crazy Lindsay Lohan do next. They do all of this while I’m struggling with an editorial that, once published, will establish world peace.
It’s too late for me to change careers and go to the dark side because as a friend so nicely put it, I don’t have the hairline for it. Broadcast journalists never go bald, and they somehow end their careers with more hair than they had when they were 15. I’ve heard that along with yearly salary increases, they get more hair. Except for Matt Lauer. Bless his heart.
We all know that most of the broadcast journalists began their careers as models on “The Price Is Right.” You’ll notice during the news how nicely the TV reporters point to the buildings behind them or pass their hands along the crime scene tape as if it were a can of spaghetti on a game show. We can’t do that in print journalism. Silly us. We have to rely on the reporter’s writing skills to break down a complicated bond issue so fifth-graders can understand it. And I’ve noticed something else. People don’t throw their televisions away after the news is over, so I want to know why they throw the newspaper away after they read it. I’m seeing some favoritism here.
Just the other day I was sitting at my desk when a newscaster interrupted my soap opera … I mean my editorial writing … with a special report.
“This is Challulah Bankhead with a special report from San Diego,” she said seriously. From her tone, it would seem she was going to announce that plague had consumed half of the city.
“Annie Mayhem is live in San Diego where we have confirmed that a gang war turned the downtown area into a battleground. Annie, what can you tell us?”
“Challulah, I’m standing on C Street in San Diego. Now witnesses are saying they knew this battle was coming.”
I had trouble staying focused on Annie and her report because several of our reporters were standing behind her with their fingers above her head, making rabbit ears. But Annie, the professional that she is, continued with her report. She glanced at her notes and didn’t miss a beat.
“Now you can see behind me the crime scene tape (I told you so) that police have used to isolate the crime scene.”
I’m glad she clarified for us the appropriate use of crime scene tape. We never would have thought that it was used to isolate a crime scene. Gosh, those TV people are smart.
“Challulah, witnesses are saying that the gang of Chihuahuas (she pronounced it chihooahooas) came from around this corner, ran to this spot (she does her “Price is Right” motion with her hand) where the poodles were waiting.”
A man is pushed to Annie, and she puts her mike under his nose. “Can you tell us what you saw?”
“Well, I saw the whole thing,” he said. “Them Taco Bell dogs tore into them poodles and there weren’t nothing left but the rhinestones from their collars.”
The camera pans to the ground littered with rhinestones and what appears to be bows the poodles had been wearing.
“We weren’t surprised though. No ma’am. This fight has been brewing for a long time. Thing is, those poodles had it coming. Prancing around here like they’re too good for us San Diego folks. Heck, you could smell ’em before you saw ’em what with all that perfume they wear. That’s the French for ya.”
“You’re saying you saw the chihooahooas attack the poodles?” Annie asked like she was Barbara Walters trying to get secrets out of Madonna.
“Oh, yes ma’am,” he said. “Them Taco Bell dogs were on them prissy things like Sherman on Atlanta. I betcha there’s fur for three blocks. Like I said, I was coming out of the bank with my wife, James Anne, and I looked up the street and saw them Chihuahua dogs. I told my wife, ‘James Anne,’ I said. ‘git in the truck. There’s trouble comin’ ’round the corner.’ Well no quicker than she slammed the door the fight was on. Them poodles didn’t have a chance.”
“Thank you,” Annie said.
A hand reaches into the screen, yanking the witness out of view by his collar. The camera pans to the crowd on the sidewalk. Women have their hands over their mouths, indicating the horror that just occurred.
“There are no confirmed fatalities, Challulah, but we have been told that the French ambassador has issued a formal complaint to the White House, and people we’ve spoken to are saying they will boycott all French products. They are saying the poodles brought this on themselves with their European snobbery and funny manners.”
Challulah Bankhead breaks in. “Annie, do the police say the street will ever be safe again?”
“Well, Challulah, they’re saying it’s too early to predict. But there is one thing that is certain. The citizens of this city won’t walk this street anytime soon without recalling today’s tragedy.”
“Thank you, Annie,” Challulah says gravely, turning to the camera so she’s looking at the viewers. “You’ve just heard a you-saw-it-here-first live report from San Diego where police have confirmed that two gangs turned the city’s streets into a war zone. We’ll have an update for you at five.”
Of course, all of us print journalists were gathered around the TV in the newsroom, fascinated by the report.
But the seasoned reporters we are, accustomed to wars, political scandals and Hollywood divorces, we went back to our soap operas … I mean our editorial writing.