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He was hungover, blindingly so, and making his regular promises to never drink again.

“Professor, are you alright?” A blonde student in the front row called out, snapping him back to reality. A wave of vertigo hit as he looked out into the assembled faces of his Journalism 101 class.

“Why are you here?” he growled to the class.

“Professor?” The girl asked, confused.

“Simple question, goldilocks. Why. Are. You Here? Because I’ll tell you right now, most of you, if you’re lucky, will end up in PR or marketing or something marginally related to your degree. But the unlucky few of you will get a real journalism job with crap pay and worse hours and constant cutbacks at the only paper left in town.

“Sure, it’s got two Pulitzers. One from fighting the KKK almost a hundred years ago when it still gave a damn, and another one for the scribblings of a conservative jackass cartoonist. But now its filled with wire stories and shrinking column inches.

“Really, you’d be better off opening up an independent paper in your parent’s garage.”

He blinked in a moment of clarity.

“And now I know what your final project’s going to be.”

Memphis Note
As the market for printed news shrinks year after year, the Commercial Appeal, the historic local daily, is taking it from all sides. Journalists are getting fired, pages are getting cut, and more and more stories are coming from the newswire. What used to be a guiding voice in the culture of Western Tennessee is slowly but surely becoming obsolete.

Laurel Amatangelo

She was having a very hard time understanding her internship.

The reporter she was paired with chewed raw aspirin – constantly – and appeared to live in a dumpster full of half-drunk whiskey bottles and cheap suits.

He ceaselessly referred to her with demeaning pet names like sweetheart, toots and, on more than one occasion, “sugar tits”. And If she didn’t have his exact right mix of coffee and bourbon waiting for him every morning, along with a fresh pack of Pall Malls, he’d start into a tirade about how women never should’ve been allowed out of the kitchen, let alone into a newsroom.

To say she hated this man would have been a rather obscene understatement.

But when they started working, when she saw how he would let a story completely engulf him, and not stop until he’d gotten what he was after; she had to admit she respected the man, but just enough to make her hate him even more.

On the last day of her internship, she confronted him, demanding to know why he’d been so horrible to her.

He regarded her for a moment and sipped his bourbon coffee.

“Because now nothing will shock you. Sugar tits.”

Memphis Note
I know a lot of people who work for local newspapers and TV stations. Nearly all of them have a story about some one like this in their newsroom. This one is for all of them.