SCENE: The office of VANESSA ELLIOTT, editor-in-chief of the online ‘news’ media, The Guardian.
TIM, a young male reporter, enters.
VANESSA: Well, hello, Tim. Have you finished the headlines for today?
TIM: That’s why I’m here. With all due respect, Vanessa, I can’t do this any longer.
VANESSA: But you’re so good! I was just looking at our last report. (She clicks on it, points at a photo of a Pauline Hanson in dark glasses and reads) “Hanson: Out to destroy another Mosque or just to get a Cappuccino?” I love, love, LOVE it!
TIM: I can’t write any more bullshit about what Hanson is up to.
VANESSA: But there hasn’t been a politician as exciting and scandalous since Jacqui Lambie.
TIM: Hanson doesn’t even have any dirt to report.
VANESSA: Her greatest asset!
TIM: Look, it was all great fun when you had the idea for something of any substance to report.
VANESSA: To invent a breaking news story — my finest moment as an editor.
TIM: But you didn’t even give her a right of reply!
VANESSA: Tim, that makes readers think she’s someone they should be scared of.
TIM: Well, I’m drawing a line. Inventing mad-woman Hanson was a cute inside joke. But then there was Lambie.
VANESSA: She needed a hunky married footballer to run off with.
TIM: And they became public enemy number one. But you weren’t satisfied.
VANESSA: Abbott needed a hidden and humiliated transgender former reality star ex-wife, Cait, who needed a lesbian lover slash personal trainer, Desiree, to help her get into the kind of shape that would get the attention of billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart.
TIM: And now half the gullible people in this week’s readership are convinced! Worse: you want me to give Bronwyn Bishop a baby bump that’s growing in reverse. This can’t go any further.
VANESSA: We’re selling more copies than ever! We’ve got our columnist Van Badham positively hysterical with Abbott-Cait. Paparazzi are convinced they’re getting priceless shots of them when they’re only snapping anonymous couples. Countless facebook pages are being created. My biggest triumph of all was when both ‘Womens Day’ and ‘New Idea’ put Abbott-Cait on their covers!
TIM: Why, Vanessa, why? We could be like ‘The Australian’ and get nominated for a Walkley Award.
VANESSA: Tim, you’re too young to remember, but when I started out as a tabloid editor, fame really meant something. Celebrities were bigger and better than the rest of us. And then it changed. There were the people who were famous for their fifteen minutes on Reality TV. Then there were the people who were famous for being famous, followed by people who were famous for no reason at all. Now we have people who are famous just because they had a bunch of kids and fight all the time. They don’t even look like celebrities. They look like the next door neighbours you wish would move away. I didn’t devote my entire adult life to sensationalising people to see them descend to this level.
TIM: What you’re doing will be the death of intelligent life.
VANESSA: No, Tim, the rebirth of it. Abbott-Cait is only the beginning. Soon, there won’t be any more Greens politicians on tabloid covers to report the cutting edge issues. Certainly no Palmer United, and definitely no ANTIFA to praise. Tabloid covers will be filled once more with true superstars!
TIM: I’m going public with this. I believe in the importance of reporting with integrity.
VANESSA: You won’t do that. Think for a moment. When did you first start working here?
TIM: In April.
VANESSA: Right before we started the ‘Andrew Bolt is a secret Halal certifier’ report.
OLIVIA: Tim, what’s your last name?
TIM (desperately searching): Uh…uh… shit! — I must have one!
VANESSA: No, Tim, you don’t.
TIM: That can’t be. You wouldn’t have!
VANESSA: I did. I made you up. And I’ve become very attached to you. You’re the best headline writer I’ve ever had. Now back to work! We’ve got cutting edge reporting to put out.
Photo by nicksarebi