If government controlled the media

Brandon Blue

Ah. I take it you’re the newest addition to our newsroom? Wonderful. Things may have changed a little since you were in school. All of our funding at the Daily Truth now comes from government subsidies, rather than advertising. Here, advertising is referred to as an “inefficient method.” Now we can fill our paper with stories, and there’s no need to cut any of them for ads.

The Daily Truth is a newspaper that serves the greater metro area and has a readership of 300,000. Since our government subsidies, that number has not wavered. Our motto is “Reporters of the world, unite!” I think it’s pretty original, don’t you?

I’m your boss. My title is News Chief. My boss works with the Federal Department of Journalism and his title is Chief of News. His boss works with the U.S. Senate Committee on Mass Communication, and his title is Chief of News Chiefs. They send us ideas brought up in committee for coverage after both of them have signed and stamped the document. The House Chief of News, who serves the House of Representatives, is responsible for all of our jobs and reminds Congress periodically of the First Amendment. She’s only 26 heartbeats from the presidency at any one time.

The paper I’m handing you is called a directive. It is the information that the two committees give us on the stories they want covered. There are “suggested sources,” “suggested viewpoints,” “suggested length” and “suggested vocabulary.” The word “suggested” is really a formality.

If you do not include an interview with each of the listed sources, or if one of your sources is not on the list, the story will not run. The government does not appreciate reporters whose stories do not run.

If the viewpoint you present deviates from what is indicated on the directive, or if you present an alternate viewpoint from the “suggested viewpoint section” of your directive, your story will not run.

If your story exceeds 799 words or falls below that number, the story will not run. It must fit on a single page in the Truth, and if it doesn’t fit, the story will not run.

If your story’s vocabulary includes any rhetoric deemed extreme by the House Chief of News, or if you fail to include all of the words under “suggested vocabulary,” your story will not run.

You will have one day to complete your directive. If you fail to complete it in that time, your story will not run.

This garbage can is for any letters to the editor that we receive. It is incinerated daily at noon. If you somehow get a letter from a reader, you are legally obliged to throw it into this bin. If we find that you have not thrown a letter in this garbage can, your stories will not run.

The pencils are here, on this table. Every reporter gets one pencil. Government studies show that reporters can write 179,426 words with a single pencil. If you write more or less than that amount, your stories will not run.

Every reporter gets one notepad. Government studies show that notepads can hold 180,000 words. If you need a new one but have not written that amount, your stories will not run.

Our Selectric is in the back room, there. Every reporter receives 23 minutes of typing time per day. In this time you must type a final draft of your story and turn it in to me. If you do not, your story will not run.

Every week, your stories are cross-referenced with each other. In addition to checks made against your individual directives, we examine the similarities between the works themselves. Government studies show that people are most comfortable reading things written in a familiar way. They need to have a consistent style if we want to keep our readers interested. So, if you begin to develop a voice or writing style that is unique, your stories will not run.

Remember, you are a member of the press now. The First Amendment guarantees your freedoms as a reporter. Treasure that First Amendment, and stick to the directives. You’re going to go far, kiddo. I can tell.