Thursday, November 23, 2017     Volume: 18, Issue: 38
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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on October 17th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 33 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 33

Humor: Rebecca Rose fondly looks back at her career

By REBECCA ROSE


There’s a lot of talk about journalism these days, what it is, what it isn’t, how it’s all totally fake, and how we’re paid by billionaires to write phony stories, etc., etc. So I thought I would dedicate some time to shedding a light on what it’s really like to work in a newsroom, by sharing some educational episodes I’ve experienced over the billion or so years I’ve been a reporter and editor in this weird beautiful business.

The career life cycle of a journalist is basically this:

• Cub Reporter: Ugh, when are they going to get me off the cat fashion show beat and put me on to some hard-hitting stuff? I am so ready to work!

• 15 years later: Ugh, why don’t they just let me go cover a cat fashion show or something. I am so tired of work.

• 30 years later: Everything is an empty black hole of despair, and life is a meaningless battle of empathy and ennui. I wish they would just let me die.

Reporters are always one-hundred percent sincere in every endeavor. One time in Texas while working the military beat, I got to interview a Navy SEAL. I asked the other reporters in the newsroom for their suggestions on questions.

The answers I got included “Do you like pizza?” “Could you beat Batman in a fight?” and “Have you ever killed a dude with your thumb?” And they say journalism is dead.

I’ve had some pretty epic phone calls. When I was at a daily paper, every Monday morning a man would call me up and read my stories to me verbatim. Then he would spend 45 minutes telling me why I was wrong about everything.

Eventually on Monday mornings I would answer the phone and pretend I didn’t speak English. This worked out great until the mayor called looking to give me a quote on the latest city budget.

Sometimes my newsroom phone calls were much more serious and important. I was working on a Sunday once and a fan of a particular comic strip took issue with our paper.

Old Man: I’m angry! I want to talk to someone about how they messed up the comics!

Me: Oh no, but I don’t work on the com—

Old Man: You need to fix these comics immediately!

Me: Hmm well OK, what did they mess up about the comics?

Old Man: They stopped running all the good ones! There’s no more Peanuts! They stopped running the Peanuts! Why did they do that?

Me: Probably because the man that drew it died in 2000.

*LONG SILENCE*

Old Man: I want you to put the Peanuts back in the comic strip!

Me: OK, no problem.

I’ve had many beats and jobs owing to the fact that our industry is shrinking and you pretty much have to be a jack-of-all-trades to survive. I’ve been thrown into situations where I was woefully in over my head, but I never let it stop me from making a total fool of myself.

Take the time I had to interview an expert on the global oil market who had a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard and had written 70 books. I am a person who once forgot a quarter was more money than a dime. The interview went about as well as you’d expect.

Me: So gas is like totally expensive right now, yeah?

Him: Yes, we’re seeing multiple fluctuations based on a number of international and domestic factors. We’re analyzing the long term impacts on a regional scale.

Me: That sounds so major.

Him: Well … I guess.

Me: So is there like a lot of math involved in that? You probably have to use a calculator or something. Or do you have a friend at work who’s good with numbers that you ask to figure stuff out for you? That’s what I do when I have to put weird overtime hours on my time card.

Him: (long pause) I have a ball. It’s red and shiny. Would you like to play with it?

Me: Oh boy, would I! Yay, a ball!

But nothing is better than working on Halloween when everyone wears a costume at work, except if you work in a newsroom where people are on 12,000 deadlines and can’t think about anything but trying to get a story out before happy hour at the airport bar is over. One time an editor I had in Texas insisted everyone dress up. These were the costumes people turned up in:

“Guy in Hat”: I asked what he was wearing, and he said “I found a hat in my car this morning, so I’m like, ‘Hey, I’ll be a guy in a hat.’” He was also wearing jeans and a sweatshirt.

“Kitty”: An editor wearing jeans, a sweatshirt, and cat ears with one ear broken off.

“Witch”: A reporter wearing jeans, a black sweatshirt, and a handwritten name tag that says “witch.”

“Punk”: A reporter wearing jeans, sweatshirt, and an orange wig I think she found on the floor of a bus.

“Reporter”: Just wearing jeans and sweatshirt. There were three of these.

“Flapper”: She was wearing a vintage dress, ornate tights, heels, a $50 headband, fan, and an antique cigarette holder she had her grandmother from Ohio ship her. This is what our Intern showed up in. Because when she asked us, “Do you guys dress up for Halloween?” I told her, “Oh yeah we go all out. If you don’t dress up you look like a total fool.”

One day, while out on assignment, my editor texted me to ask, “Are you in a fight with someone in the dress aisle at Ross?”

Apparently it had just come over the police scanner and her first instinct was to immediately find out if it was me. 

I honestly had to think about it for a while, if I was indeed in a fight with someone about a dress at Ross, because at any given moment in time I could very well be in that situation.

Rebecca Rose will fight you for a cheap cute dress in her size. Contact her at rrose@santamariasun.com.




Weekly Poll
What do you like most about the holiday season?

Spending time with family and friends.
The food, and eating too much of it.
Gift giving and receiving.
The days off from work.

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