Dear Big Daddy,
I’m a Capitol news junkie. These newspaper layoffs have got me worried that there will be no one left to supply me with my fix. Are you concerned about the Capitol press corps?
Dear Needs a new hobby,
You’re worried? They’re the ones living with a mortgage and an English degree. But I don’t want you join those hundreds of people already robbing liquor stores and selling their bodies on K Street to pay for their Capitol Alert subscriptions, so I’d better offer you some reassuring words.
Though if my words are too reassuring I’ll become your enabler, and eventually I’ll start feeling used. I’ll act out in little ways, like spiking your newsfeed with cheap Bolivian laxatives, and that could get ugly. I’ve loved an addict before.
Of course, that addict was me, and my addiction was to publicity. Encouraging such a dependence on current members of the Leg may the only hope for our poor pixel-stained newsies. More on that later.
I’m also not compassionate enough to lie to you. The press corps is going through something akin to a Third World cholera epidemic, minus the international aid workers. With all the talk of newspapers outsourcing local journalism to India, with the trajectory we’re on, we’ll soon all be tuning into some guy interviewing that random Arnold Schwarzenegger phrase-generator Web site.
Now the Leg could do something about this if they wanted. Democrats in Congress have managed to defend the Endangered Species Act for so long that I hear Willie Brown won’t date anyone born before it. More locally, I long for the days when I thought the Delta smelt was a sandwich.
What I am suggesting, of course, is the Reporters in Peril act, or RIP for short. This would be multipronged legislation designed to maintain viable journalist populations in perpetuity. First, we’d protect critical habitat, such as seedy bars, abandoned parking garages and Steve Maviglio’s trash can. For those reporters no longer able to survive in the wild, we’ll provide blogs where they can live out their days critiquing the work of the few still in the field.
Second, we’d initiate a breeding program, in captivity if necessary, to help replace their plummeting numbers. Capitol reporters have the social skills of water buffalo–or more likely that’s just the ones over here. Anyway, many a reporter has lamented the fact that they work in a world where everyone is a potential source, and thus not a potential mate. I know the truth–that they’re obsessive-compulsive types who rarely leave the office. It’s gotten so bad that last week the FDA approved Cal-Access as a contraceptive.
Finally, we’ll place strict kill-limits so our major newspapers can’t bag more than one or two Capitol reporters a year. Any newsy under 5-feet-4-inches would have to be thrown back until they’re ready to be harvested.
Now would the Leg actually be interested in passing such legislation? Probably not, as long as the journalists in question are writing stories about campaign finance and backroom deals. Even if they did pass it, you can be sure there would be a clause in there about letting a big game hunter in now and then to take down any member of the herd who gets too uppity. Eventually, they’d find a way to ensure the journalist population stays as compliant as a box full of still-blind kittens, churning out positive coverage until they change Rough & Tumble to “Puff Piece & Press Release.”
Live free or die, feral newsies. You will be missed.