Editor: I’ve called you here today because we have a big problem. A huge problem.
Journo 1: Christ, don’t tell me the bosses have taken away our biscuits now.
Editor: That hasn’t been announced yet. How did you know?
Journo 1: It was the logical next step after they implemented the “bring your own teabag to work” scheme last month.
Editor: Well that’s not what I’ve called you here for. It’s something even worse than that. The Whaleoil site has been taken down.
Journo 2: Oh God!
Journo 3: Fuck!
Journo 4: What do we do now? What are we going to report on?
Editor: Look, it’s bad, really bad, but it’s not the end of the world.
Journo 1: How can you say that? How could this happen?
Editor: Someone has knocked the site down. Cameron Slater reckons it might have something to do with his calling a young West Coast man who recently died “feral”.
Journo 3: Oh yeah, I heard about that. Isn’t he now getting death threats?
Editor: So he claims.
Journo 4: Well what does he expect? He writes so many horrible hurtful things about people that it’s no wonder some people take exception.
Journo 1: That doesn’t justify threats of death or violence against his family, surely?
Journo 4: Of course not. You have to pity them, don’t you? What have they done to deserve this shit? If my family was being targeted or put through so much pain I’d just walk away. It’s only a blog.
Journo 1: I’m not surprised by your attitude. I saw your attempt at blogging. Weren’t you a columnists for The Daily Blog for a while?
Journo 4: I don’t want to talk about that. That was a dark period of my life.
Journo 1: Still, it’s terrible what’s happened to Slater. They say bad things happen to good people.
Editor: It looks like they happen to bloggers too.
Journo 3: I never liked the guy anyway. Just reading his site makes me feel dirty, so I’m glad his site’s down. Whoever did it is doing the world a favour.
Journo 1: But it doesn’t do us any favours. What are we going to report? We have no stories. People want scandal, intrigue, and dirt. Whaleoil delivers all of this in abundance, and we then repeat it for the masses. People enjoy reading the stories he delivers up. They love it!
Journo 3: So you’re saying that if it feels good just do it, regardless of the consequences?
Journo 1: Exactly! We’re not the arbiters of morality.
Journo 3: In that case, I hope you don’t mind if I masturbate while we talk.
Editor: No, please don’t do that.
Journo 1: This attack on Slater’s site should concern us all. The freedom of the press is at stake.
Journo 4: Slater’s not a journalist. A judge said so. He’s just a partisan of dubious ethics and morals who will do anything to get attention.
Editor: He doesn’t sound that different to some of our regular columnists.
Journo 1: So what? It doesn’t matter that he writes things that some people take exception to. That doesn’t give people the right to shut him down. Didn’t Voltaire once say: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”?
Journo 2: Yes, and he also said “Prejudices are what fools use for reason.”
Journo 3: You just Googled “Voltaire quotes,” on your iPad, didn’t you? I wondered what you were doing with your hands down there.
Journo 2: Hey, I’m not the one who wanted to masturbate during our meeting. Apparently Voltaire also said “The best government is a benevolent tyranny tempered by an occasional assassination.”
Editor: Okay, enough. Put the iPad away.
Journo 2: “The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.”
Editor: Stop it! This is serious. We have a deadline to meet, and no material. No scandal. No sex, no sleaze, no nasty socialist politicians being caught lying or with their fingers in the till.
Journo 2: We could always just tail David Cunliffe and ask him stupid questions in the hope that he’ll eventually lose his temper.
Editor: Alright, that might work. Let’s do it.
Journo 4: Wait a minute. Don’t you see? This is perfect! This could be our chance to finally do some really meaningful and meaty stories. This could be the opportunity we’ve all been waiting for. A chance to return to credible journalism, involving respectable sources, and important issues that matter to people. Not just tawdry tales of who’s sleeping with who. How about we report on the real impact of party policies on people? Let’s forget all the spin and hype, and all the bullshit about winners and losers, and just report on the issues. Isn’t that our job? Politics isn’t just a game. Government policies have real effects on people.
Journo 1: This is what happens when you let a woman in the newsroom.
Journo 4: Misogynistic prick.
Journo 3: She’s right. Don’t we owe it to our readers to provide a proper analysis of issues, and not just rehash whatever attack lines Cameron Slater has been paid to write on his blog?
Journo 1: I just had a thought. We’re saved! There’s no need for any sort of panic. Kiwiblog’s still up.
Editor: Thank God. Wait, I just got an email on my phone, and it looks important.
Journo 1: Whaleoil’s back up?
Editor: No, it looks like we’ve been bought out by some foreign crowd. As of four o’clock we’ve all been made redundant.
Journo 2: So it’s back to flipping burgers for me. At least the pay’s better.
Journo 3: I can go back to writing my novel.
Journo 1: Don’t worry. They always do this, and then they just rehire everyone as freelancers on even less money. So who’s the new editor?
Editor: Hang on. I’m just reading the announcement. Oh…
Journo 2: Who is it? Who?
Editor: “…pleased to announce that New Zealand’s most prominent and controversial blogger has agreed to take the role…”
Journo 4: Is it Bomber Bradbury?
Editor: Who’s he?
Journo 3: Christ, no… it’s not…
Journo 1: Yes!