City Paper Mocks Competitors For 'Policies' Over Stewart/Colbert Rallies

from the restoring-sanity dept

It’s been pretty amusing watching various journalism outfits issue official “rules” to their journalists about this weekend’s “Rally to Restore Sanity/March to Keep Fear Alive” put on by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. NPR specifically banned journalists from participating while the Washington Post similarly warned reporters, that they could “observe,” but “cannot in any way put themselves in a position that could be construed as supporting (or opposing) that cause.” Yes, how dare reporters be seen supporting sanity!

Now, as a bunch of folks have sent in, the much smaller Washington City Paper has issued an amusing satirical memo to its own staff, mocking the leaked memos from those other news organizations:

  1. You may attend the rallies in a non-participatory fashion.
  2. However, because the rallies are comic events, you may not laugh.
  3. The act of not laughing, though, can be just as politically loaded as the act of laughing. Therefore, staffers are advised to politely chuckle, in a non-genuine manner, after each joke.
  4. To avoid any perception of bias, please make sure to chuckle at all jokes, whether or not you find them funny. As journalists, we must make sure to not allow our personal views of “humorous” or “non-humorous” to affect our public demeanor.
  5. Likewise, it could be devastating to our impartial reputation if our staffers were seen laughing at something that was not intended as a joke, thereby appearing to mock the entire event. If we are lucky, the comedians will have a drummer on hand whose rim-shots may be used as a cue for when to politely chuckle.
  6. If no non-verbal cues for laughter are available, please observe audience members around you. If they are laughing, imitate their laughter with a non-genuine polite chuckle. If they are not laughing, remain stone-faced. Whatever you do, do not apply your own personal cognitive skills to determining the humorousness of any particular clip. Such an approach exposes us to charges of bias.
  7. On the other hand, a situation could arise where partisan foes of the Comedy Central hosts laugh at them in a derisive manner unrelated to the timing of their on-stage jokes. In this case, your failure to join in the mockery could potentially be interpreted as a sign that you disagree with the derision–an equally distasteful indication of bias. Please follow the above guidelines and also chuckle politely, but not genuinely, at any instances of counter-comedy.
  8. In our experience, public appearances by comedy figures also draw audiences whose members frequently make jokes amongst themselves. These attempts at humor might not necessarily fit into the rational example of protesters versus counter-protesters outlined in the guidelines above. However, you could nonetheless indicate a great deal about your personal biases via your decision as to whether or not you laugh along when the person next to you riffs about, say, marginal tax rates. Please make sure to follow the above guidelines and respond via polite, non-genuine, mild guffaws to the jibes of amateur comics in the audience.
  9. We’re also aware that the large crowds expected at the rallies could produce a cacophonous din, one in which you are unable to discern which jokes are being made by audience members, counter-protestors, or the day’s main attractions–and, worse still, where observers may think you are laughing at an anti-Republican joke when you are actually laughing at an anti-Democrat joke. To protect our cherished reputation against such a danger, I have arranged for each of you to be issued a pair of earplugs. Should the event grow too raucous, please insert these earplugs immediately. Once you have inserted the earplugs, please chuckle politely, and non-genuinely, every 74 seconds, to maintain the appearance of non-biased and appropriate responses to the event.
  10. You are free to laugh heartily and genuinely at any jokes that target the terrorists.

Separately, it should be noted that the Washington City Paper was kind enough to publish this memo itself. The similar memos from NPR and the Washington Post were, instead, published by competing outfits that had the memos “leaked.” Kinda makes you wonder why those news outfits leak internal emails for others to report, rather than reporting on such things themselves…

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Comments on “City Paper Mocks Competitors For 'Policies' Over Stewart/Colbert Rallies”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

maybe Mike or the commentators could explain to me why is it that American journalist always like to add there opinion on what ever they are reporting, i don’t think I have ever read an American article where the journalist just stats facts.

In Europe for example newspaper and even TV news try to stick to the facts as much as possible.

PS I think that is/should be the difference between bloggers and reporters. (bloggers writes about issues in there own perspective where as reporters report facts)

ChronoFish (profile) says:

Re: Re:

90% of what the American News Media Consumer considers “news” is actually commentary. It’s not that the news is biased – it’s that the consumer thinks that commentary is news.

The problem with the 24-hour news cycle is that it’s not all that interesting on “slow news days”. It’s just background noise until a plane crashes, OJ drives a slow white bronco, a volcano erupts, or a hurricane comes within 300 miles of possible land fall.

To keep the attention of the American News Media Consumer – the 24 hour news media has resulted to engaging the watcher by means of sensationalism.

If the American News Media Consumer truly wanted “unbiased” and “fair” news reporting, CSPAN would have the highest rating of any news channel.


Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:

These organizations are our watchmen?

You would think that as the ‘bastions of truth’ these news organizations portend to be that they would allow their employees to use their freedom to attend/enjoy the rally. Sure, these are private corporations so they can make any rules they want but do they apply these same rules to all rallies/gatherings…I surely doubt it!

Rob Pegoraro (profile) says:

What or who leaks

Probably a mistake to write that “news outfits leak internal emails”–in my experience, newspapers don’t order up controlled leaks the way companies and government offices do. These things happen on their own; a reporter finds a memo interesting/annoying/confusing enough and forwards it to somebody who can publicize it.

No, I didn’t leak this memo. I do, however, wonder why newspapers don’t recognize that newsroom-wide memos will inevitably leak and post them on their own sites first, instead of letting Romenesko et al. run up traffic by reposting them elsewhere.

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