By DUTTON PEABODY
Editor in Chief
At a recent staff meeting in The Shinbone Star’s palatial newsroom, I worked to put down a coup attempt (there’s that word again) after beleaguered writers opined that they deserved a raise.
I challenged them.
“A raise?” I said. “But what have you actually done to help our readers?” Nobody had an immediate answer, so I pressed my advantage.
“We’re just preaching to the choir here,” I said. “All of you rant and rave about Trump, but that’s not helping readers who are already ranting and raving on their own. What they really need is a way to shut up their stupid relatives and stupid neighbors who still love Trump in spite of everything! You want a raise, then give me something that helps our readers do that!”
You could have heard a pin drop. I knew I had them then because there’s not one thing in the galaxy that can dissuade ignorant Trumpers from supporting their precious Orange Shitstain. To their credit, staff members seemed to know it, too.
Just as I was ready to end the meeting and walk away, staff writer Macinelli raised his hand from the back of the room. I pretended not to see him because even though the guy’s one of our best reporters, he’s also got a well-deserved reputation for being a real pain in the ass, especially if that ass belongs to Donald Trump. But other staff members noticed Mac and started yelling, “Not so fast, Mac has something to say!”
Well, there was no avoiding it now, so I sighed deeply and told Mac to speak his piece.
“We could counter Trump’s lies with truth by compiling a primer so that our readers could have snappy comebacks to anything Trump says,” Mac said, “and they could then tell their relatives and neighbors to S-T-F-U!”
Mac didn’t really say “S-T-F-U,” not exactly, but you get the idea.
“We could take him on lie by lie,” Mac continued, “and the whole staff could contribute!”
I noticed some scowls when Mac suggested that the whole staff could contribute, but a few others were already jumping on board.
“Hell yeah!” said Masta Talka, The Shinbone Star’s managing editor. “We could write the copy, then turn the whole project over to our artistes to design an attractive package that will feature useful links and special typography, just like all the real online newspapers do!”
“What artistes?” I asked, but Masta Talka was on a roll.
“We could update it every time Trump spouts a new lie, and the artistes could make it really easy for readers to navigate, and oh golly, what a great idea!”
“What artistes?” I asked again. “Update it every time he tells a lie? But that’s all the time!”
But nobody was listening to me anymore. Too many staffers were feeling energized, a particular effect Masta Talka has on others with his dizzying blend of Boom!-Bap! anger and misguided optimism.
The staff meeting devolved into pandemonium, everyone speaking at once.
“Shouldn’t we have free pizza at a staff meeting?” asked Anne-Marie.
”Pizza? I prefer poutine, eh?” countered Madmegsbog.
“The Cardinals are in the playoffs!” boomed Nathaniel Helms.
“Burn it all down!” screamed LarryBDNC, stalking around the room menacingly with a book of matches.
“If I write one item can I have a raise?” deadpanned Deborah Quinn Hensel.
“No! No! No! No!” I barked, but my protests couldn’t be heard.
While Masta Talka ordered pizzas and cheese curds on the company dime, I retreated into my office to dry-swallow some aspirin and figure out how I was going to pay for it all.
Well, to make a long story short, staff members actually produced a primer that goes by the unlikely name “All Hat But No Cattle.” They even found an artiste who put together “visual aids” that would not only help our readers find the new feature, but also help them navigate back to our home page.
It’s way too many bells and whistles for this old paper-and-ink journalist, but hey, if our readers will use the primer to slap some sense into their Trump-loving neighbors, then maybe, just maybe, it all will have been worth it.
Now, about those raises . . .
↓ Visual aids! How to find All Hat But No Cattle ↓
Click the promo in the left-hand sidebar on most computers:
Or click the menu item at the top of the page:
To leave the primer and return to the home page: