Old School Journalism Jokes
August 4, 2007
You know that old school journalism has just about breathed its last when the New York Times has to run a correction like this. Whatever J-schools do or don’t do anymore, at least they taught you what “30” used to mean to editors. The fact that the glitch concerned February is worth an extra snort or two. Maybe next week they’ll have to correct improper use of Winchell dots.
Do this mean old school journalism jokes are on the way out, too? If so, what will replace them? I collect in-jokes from various professions because they usually reveal a great deal about the attitudes within a given field. For example, musician jokes are all about egotistical singers, guitarists caught up in flashy solos, fifth-wheel bassists and dumb drumers. As in: “How do you get a guitarist to stop playing? Put sheet music in front of him.” Or, “What do you call a guy who likes to hang out with musicians? A bass player.” Or, “How can you tell if the stage is level? The drummer is dribbling out of both sides of his mouth.” Singer jokes are usually variations of Dumb Blonde jokes, as in “How many singers does it take to screw in a light bulb? One: He holds up the bulb and waits for the world to revolve around him.”
Classic journalism jokes turn around the antagonism between reporters and editors. They’re also usually told as short stories, appropriately enough:
A reporter and an editor are lost in the desert. They’ve been without food or water for days, and it’s beginning to look like this is the end. Then, just as they’re ready to give up, they see a shimmer on the horizon. They run toward it and see — an oasis! With their last ounce of strength they run to it.
The reporter reaches it first and jumps into a lake of the cleanest, freshest, tastiest water he’s ever experienced. He gulps down the water and splashes around in it. Then he looks up and sees the editor, who instead of drinking the water is standing at the waterline and urinating into it.
“What the hell are you doing?” the reporter shouts.
“I’m making it better,” the editor says.
Here is a slighter more elaborate variation on that theme:
Some friends get together to go hunting in the Maine woods. On their way to the campsite, they pass a farm with a sign posted in front: HUNTING DOG AVAILABLE. So they head up to the farm and ask the owner how much it would cost to borrow the dog for a day.
“His name is Reporter and you can have him for $20 a day,” the owner says. They pay the money, and after setting up camp they get started. Reporter turns out to be a fabulous hunting dog, flushing out all kinds of game. They use him every day and go home agreeing it was money well spent.
For the next few years, the friends return to the same spot in Maine and rent Reporter each day. Over the years, Reporter’s price keeps creeping up: $30, $40, $70. Each time the hunters pay it, because Reporter is a matchless hunting dog.
Then, one year, they head up to the Maine farm and ask to rent the dog. “You can have him for $5,” the owner says.
The friends are stunned. “Last time we were here, you charged us $70 to use the dog,” one of them says. “What happened?”
“Reporter’s no good anymore,” the owner says. “Last year I rented him out and some idiot called him Editor. Now he doesn’t do anything except sit on his ass and bark.”
Feel free to send in your own examples.