“A Novice Reporter’s Guide to Breaking News Online,” by John Merriman

Mar 27th, 2013 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

There once was a time when people enjoyed getting their news printed on paper and a day late. But now it’s all about the online news cycle that delivers information to us in “real time,” because time is now real. How can a journalist looking to break the next big story stay competitive? Simple: the secret is to make the news happen yourself. Read through these sample interviews to see how it’s done!


Movie Star: I’m in a new movie. You should see it because it stars me.

Reporter: That’s nice. Tell me about the time you were arrested for drunk driving.

Movie Star: My publicist told me I can only talk about my current and upcoming film projects!

Reporter: Don’t you see? Your drunk driving incident is an upcoming film project. It can star Tommy Lee Jones as the grizzled traffic cop, Marisa Tomei as your distraught but sexually creative wife, and somebody 25 years younger than you as yourself. Make room for that Oscar on your shelf now!

Movie Star: Wait, why can’t I play myself? And how can I get an Oscar if I’m not in it?

Reporter: Um, hello? Why would you want to star in a movie about how you’re a drunk driver? Just write the screenplay. All actors are naturally gifted writers. Plus, after that big writers’ strike some years ago, screenwriters now make tons of money and get to make all the big Hollywood decisions.

Movie Star: Sold! I’m going straight to work on my screenplay. There’s computer software that writes it for you, right?

Reporter: Folks, you heard it here first—next year’s biggest flop, I mean blockbuster, is in the works! Take that, upcomingmovienewsfrommymomsbasement.wordpress.com!


Politician: I am announcing my candidacy for this year’s election. Also, I am probably cheating on my wife.

Reporter: Oh my God, there’s an election this year? Well, nobody cares about that. And everybody just assumes you’ve been unfaithful in your marriage. No, what you want to be telling me is that you’ve been abducted by aliens.

Politician: I have?

Reporter: Of course! Just think how this experience will broaden your constituent base.

Politician: I see your point. People of Earth, the aliens mean us no harm, even if they have giant lasers trained on all our major cities. They also approve of marital infidelity. What are you doing?

Scientist: Oh, just typing up an exclusive story about how your political career is going down in flames.

Politician: Excuse me?

Reporter: I said you have my vote!


Scientist: [anything a scientist says to you]

Reporter: Whatever you are talking about, it sounds both complicated and boring. For God’s sake, tell us about your hobbies instead.

Scientist: OK. I like to go fishing and cook what I catch for dinner.

Reporter: Well, thanks for nothing! I hope not all scientists eat something that could lead to a discovery beneficial for all humanity. What if you found that bluefish fins could cure cancer?

Scientist: I’ve never heard of bluefish having cancer-curing properties.

Reporter: That’s because you’re a shitty scientist.

Scientist: This interview is over.

Reporter: Not only is it over, but it’s going to get you fired for your gross negligence. If I were you, I’d skip tomorrow’s headlines, because you’re not going to like what you see. And by tomorrow’s headlines, I mean, check your smartphone right now for the 140 characters of news I just tweeted. Isn’t online journalism awesome?


Defenestration-John MerrimanJohn Merriman writes humor on the Internet. Visit his website or stalk him on Twitter.

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