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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Writer’s Skill/Craft (04/22/10)

TITLE: What's a Journalist to Do?
By Amanda Brogan


The pungent aroma of black Colombian coffee mingled with the scent of printer ink wafted through the doorway and greeted Matthew’s nostrils as he sauntered into the newspaper office. His ears caught the clickity-clack of dozens of computer keyboards typing out what likely each of their owners thought was the latest, greatest piece of news. Though he wagered that all would wilt in comparison to whatever he could dish out.

“Hey, Matt! I read your article on that mob boss in the paper yesterday. That was totally wicked!”

“Hey, hey, thanks Jimmy, my man. There was nothing to it.” Matthew slapped Jimmy a high-five and then proceeded in their knuckle-slammin’, finger-twistin’ special handshake.

“I mean really,” Jimmy continued, “That article was one of the best I’ve ever read. It was almost as awesome as yesterday’s sports story.”

Matthew’s narcissistic grin suddenly faded, his ego suffering from a punch to the gut. Then he lightened again.

“Oh, yeah right! Good joke, Jimmy.” He gave his buddy a friendly smack on the back.

“No, I mean it. That lady who wrote the sports column is unbelievable. I felt like I was actually watching the game.”

“Big deal. That’s not nearly as interesting as my mob story. Besides, I’ll bet you a week’s salary that I could have done better.”

“With sports? How so?” Jimmy crossed his arms with a look that challenged “Yeah, prove it”.

“I got a tip from a friend of mine who said that the winning basketball team has been suspected of using steroids.”

He watched as Jimmy’s eyes doubled in size, then added, “Now wouldn’t that make a juicy edition of the sports column?”

Jimmy recovered some. “But that team is known for their high standards. They never cheat.”

“All the more reason why the story would be perfect.”

“But you can’t just go on a lead. You’ve got to look into the facts and be ready to back up your story. You need testimonies and proof.”

“You sound more like a judge in a courtroom than a journalist.” He rested his hands on the long plastic table behind him which held the coffee makers and leaned back.

“Come on, man. Even the most unethical journalist knows that you have to investigate the facts. What if you were to write an article stating that a team whose players have flawless records has suddenly been discovered to have been using steroids?
Somebody’s definitely going to look into it and if they find that it’s just a rumor, you’ll be the one whose reputation gets marred.”

Before he could make a witty comeback, Matthew heard his name being called. And then a pretty secretary recited the phrase that he had longed to hear for months.

“The chief would like to see you.”

He cast a smug grin at Jimmy and straightened his jacket. “Promotion time.”


“Ah Matthew, I need to speak with you.” The editor-in-chief announced as the confident journalist entered his office. His tone was more business-like than Matthew liked to hear.

The chief folded his hands. “As of today, I am transferring you to the sports column and giving Vicky your place in investigative reporting.”

Matthew felt the floor sinking beneath his chair.

“We’re . . . switching places? But sir, what about my story?”

“Your story contained statements that were found to be false. I need someone trustworthy like Vicky who will get the facts straight rather than chasing rumors. She found out just today that someone has been trying to frame that team called "the Witnesses" by claiming that they use steroids. If you had investigated like that for your mob article, you’d know that the lead you had on the mob boss was erroneous. The real godfather is no doubt pleased that you led public scrutiny away from him.”

Matthew was speechless. He’d followed the wrong lead? How had he allowed that to happen?

Maybe by not finding enough proof.

“Let this be a lesson to you, Matthew. You’re lucky I don’t suspend you entirely. As it is, Vicky begged me to let you have her job. Such a sweet girl. Now get going! I want to see an unembellished story for tonight’s game on my desk by morning.”

As he was dejectedly closing the door to the editor’s office, Matthew heard Jimmy’s voice in the hall behind him.

“So will the world’s best journalist be getting an extra bonus today or does he owe me his week's salary?"

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This article has been read 531 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/29/10
This was a delightful read and left me with a smile on my face.
Marilyn Schnepp 04/30/10
Neat story. Perhaps Matt's downfall was for a reason, eh? Could be God has "other" plans for him - like using his talent for Him and carrying His message to a world hungering for the truth. Just a thought...(*.*) Nice job.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/03/10
I still like it-you definitely had a lesson to teach. For a journalist a big part of his skill or craft would be to make sure the facts are correct.
AnneRene' Capp05/03/10
Thought this was quite on topic. Researching facts before writing is definitely a skill/craft, even with fiction. :)
Also thought this was well written and had good dialogue. Great message on morals too.
Caitlyn Meissner05/04/10
*applauds* I really liked this story. I thought your dialog was excellent, and your meaning was very clear too. Good take on the topic.
Holly Hoell05/05/10
I thought this article was a Slam Dunk on steroids :-D

I enjoyed it. It was very engaging, held my attention and interest the whole way through... At the end all I could think was OUCH!
Beth LaBuff 05/05/10
Oh man… the coffee smelled good! (in your opening sentence) :) I hope Jimmy learned a bit about ethics and journalism. You've crafted a great story.
Eliza Evans 05/05/10
Very well done! This was an excellent idea for this topic.

A little red:
I love the first part of your opening sentence but it gets too wordy and thereby loses some of it's oomph. (that is just my opinion)

I like how you start with the sense of smell (coffee and ink mingled...very interesting) and then the sense of hearing. (clackity-clack of typewriters) Draws me in and sets the "stage."

Keep writing. This was great. I look forward to reading more of your stuff.:)
Edmond Ng 05/06/10
Journalism without investigation is a dangerous game. This journalist did not follow the ethical code right, so he’s getting his just desserts. Regarding the opening sentence being kind of wordy, I think I’m with Eliza, but I like the part on the clickity-clack. I guess the latter did better in putting pictures in the readers’ mind to draw them into the story. Overall, it’s an Interesting read and well written.
Benjamin Graber05/06/10
I enjoyed reading this one. I was glad that Matthew didn't get away with stretching the truth - there are so many people today that have no problem with stretching the truth to fit their agenda!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/06/10
Congratulations in placing in the top 15 in your level.