“Hold Page One!”

You’re tired of that six-figure salary and the lifetime peace of mind it affords you.

You want a business card with some street cred.

So you reflect.

You had a paper route as a kid. You’ve seen “All the President’s Men” a dozen times. Chained to a desk five days a week, you crave a job that will leave you with an attaboy kind of satisfaction when your head hits the pillow.

You want to be a reporter.

Before taking a trip to the Fourth Estate, however, you need a lay of the land. Following is a glossary of terms designed to help you navigate the newsroom.

Animal Crackers: A story with legs, usually four. Someone owns an exotic animal, and bad old city hall is doing its damndest to separate the two. Neglected or abandoned animals ring the bell, as well. And let’s not forget the “animal is spotted” piece. An alligator has been spotted in a subdivision pond or a hunter has run across a cougar or bobcat or feral hog in the woods.

Conspiracy theorist: This guy calls you every other week and talks for an hour. Every municipal official in his town, some eight counties away, is corrupt, but that’s just what his neighbor told him. He has no documentation and is unwilling to go on the record.

Evergreen: A story that, regardless of age, never gets old. Every good journalist keeps a few evergreens in his garden.

Paper pusher: This is a spokesperson who faxes you something on every groundbreaking, traffic initiative and marijuana bust. But ask him about the double homicide on Main Street, and he can’t tell you detail one.

Web gold: Known in some circles as a “clicker,” a story so peculiar that it’s guaranteed tons of hits on the Internet. Examples would be “Overturned Molasses Tanker Brings Traffic to a Crawl on I-44” and “Governor Barfs on Donor at Fundraiser.”

Steak sauce: A piece that gets played on A-1, the front page of the newspaper.

Quote machine: A source who speaks in readable, colorful language and answers every question before you ask it. On the endangered species list.

The crown: The reward one gets for having an above-the-fold package on Page One and the local section front. A traveling trophy, it is handcrafted from the finest manila folders and held together with staples.

IDKs: These people don’t know to call, text or leave a message for someone you need to reach. And if they did, they wouldn’t tell you because your a stinkin’ reporter sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong.

Ready to break some news?

Meet you at deadline.


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