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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm a Real Journalist! And don't forget it!

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Yes, we know you're a reporter. Now shut up about yourself and just do your job.

I have a soft spot for journalists. I used to be one. I even have an honours degree from one of the best Canadian journalism schools. I have worked in every news medium except television. So don't think that I hate reporters. It's quite the opposite, in fact. But I really can't stand the bad writing that clutters up the newspaper and airwaves, serving only to remind the public that the journalist is a journalist. Yeah, we get it. Weren't you going to tell me something significant, interesting or new?

CBC can exclusively report that... : Shut up. Do you know how many people care that your story is exclusive? I can count them on one finger. There's no such thing as an exclusive, anyway. If your story's any good, other news agencies will pick it up. Announcing your story as an exclusive does nothing to inform me about the world; it is just a pat on the back for you.

The mayor said in an interview that... : Shut up. I know that reporters do interviews. I assume that you did an interview with anyone you've quoted. That's because I am giving you the benefit of the doubt instead of immediately jumping to the alternative conclusion: that you eavesdrop on other people's conversations and rush to report on them instead of double-checking to make sure you understood. I am not impressed by hearing that you interviewed the mayor. Just tell me what he said.

Remember the day you invited Betty to the prom and got so nervous that you thought you'd throw up your jelly sandwich on your high-topped yellow Nikes? : Shut up. You're not funny. You don't know what kind of shoes I wear or what I eat for lunch. If you want to write about anxiety, write about anxiety. Don't try to cutesy it up with a made-up anecdote. If you need a personal touch for your story, GO OUT AND INTERVIEW SOMEONE.

Insiders say... : Shut up. What insiders? Were you eavesdropping again, or did someone actually tell you something? Who are these people, and why should I care what they say? And why won't they go on the record? This kind of reference adds nothing to your story except to show that you have lots of contacts who won't actually tell you anything for sure. Sorry to break it to you, but this does not impress me. It makes me think that you are too lazy to find a source who will actually tell you something. And that you are so stuck on yourself that you call your neighbour an "insider" just to make yourself sound important.

Does William think there are any perks to being a celebrity? Does he get more attention from the ladies? : Shut up. I'm sorry that you think that your questions are more interesting than the people in your story. We are all fully aware that when you interview people, you ask them questions. We get it. You think your questions are funny. You want everyone to know that you asked these questions, so you can look hip and cool. A person who was truly cool would not feel the need to chase after the readers' approval this way. If you are interviewing someone who does not have much to say, maybe you should find someone else to interview.

The Issue: Snow. We Say: People should shovel their sidewalks. : SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP!!! Okay, we GET it. You want to be a hard-hitting media agency with opinions on everything. You want to be the columnist that people turn to when they are trying to decide what to think about an issue. You look at Rex Murphy or Ann Coulter, see their rabid fans, and want to be just like them. So you start handing out opinions on everything. Your problem is that there are not enough issues for you to come up with a totally new and hard-hitting opinion several times a week. You start phoning it in, but don't want to admit it to yourself. Soon you are issuing pronouncements on things like whether City Hall should put more chlorine in the pool. You stake out a position (MORE CHLORINE!) and you attack City Hall mercilessly. You even suggest that the low chlorine levels are part of an ongoing effort to HARM OUR CHILDREN! You have no idea how ridiculous you look. Please stop. In the name of all that is holy, please stop.