Barbie’s 16 rules of journalism

Young journalists today think they have it rough, but they’d probably feel differently if they knew about Kim.

Picture this: It’s 1992. Kim has been working as a secretary at The National Scoop since 1986, and she thinks she’s ready to “upgrade her career” and become a reporter. But when she asks, her jerk editor assigns her to a suicide mission. It’s a crafty and timeless move by the editor – give the secretary an impossible story, then blame it on her when she comes up short.

The story? Get the scoop on Barbie. Dozens have tried, dozens of failed. Kim will be no different in her failure, but at least she tried. Here’s what today’s young reporters can learn from her desperate attempt to scoop her way to the top.

1) Editors are demanding and make a lot of statements that end in exclamation marks. It’s best to respond with an exclamation of your own.

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2) You may think you can strut into the editor’s office with your short skirt, steaming coffee and secret thought bubbles – but every newsroom has a weird guy with a bowtie who can read minds.

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3) Editors are jerks. Also, they keep secret files in their desks to hand out to the reporters once they assign them a story. Especially the tricky ones, like getting the scoop on Barbie.

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4) Hiding is an important part of journalisting. So is knowing when to pounce (ie not yet).

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5) Recycling IS very important, but like all things good and true it’s not a scoop.

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6) When chasing a story (literally) and trying to avoid detection, “far enough behind” means half a car length.

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7)   Trees and floppy hats are key to scoops, but that’s not all it takes. The real story that Kim is missing probably has something to do with why this old guy sets up his chair right in his doorway.

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8)   Take some time for yourself.

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9)  A good reporter thinks in giant red capital letters, especially when jumping to conclusions about Barbie getting married just because she’s trying on a dress while visiting her friend’s house (note: supermodels often try on wedding dresses, so be cautious before reporting it as a scoop).

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10) One good scoop can get you on the cover of every newspaper in town. Either that, or it’s not a scoop and the boss at the National Scoop is going to wonder why she’s paying you any money at all.

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11) Your reporting has consequences. Not everyone can just strap on their roller skates and get on with their day like Barbie (and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford) can.

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12)  After your scoop lands, attend the press conference to gloat. Do not, I repeat, do not do any further reporting.

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13) If you get the story wrong, smart sources will turn it around to their advantage. Reminder: Don’t do any additional reporting. Leave it to creepy bowtie guy.

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14) The media love it when you trick them into writing about something, and will do their best to get your story out.

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15)  The editor’s first hiring instinct is always right.

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16) If you blow a story, return to your secretarial job and also volunteer somewhere. The pay is probably better anyway.

CCI20130805_0018All of these images came from the August 20th, 1992 edition of Barbie Fashion.