Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How to be a Bad Journalist: Tips from Brenda Lee

Brenda Lee is a columnist from Macon who made the news in 2009 after Secret Service removed her from a press area near Air Force One (read about it here).  Although slightly dated news, Brenda’s example still has a lot to teach us young news people how to be really bad journalists.  Here’s a checklist I gleaned after reading about her harrowing experience:

1. Lie.
That’s right. To be a bad journalist, all you have to do is lie about who you are. Especially when trying to contact the president.  Brenda did it.  With no regards to how morally ironic this would be, she told the Secret Service that she was a Catholic priestess from Anaheim – with White House press clearance. Nothing fishy there.

2.  Dress up according to what lie you have just told. 
If you say you are a firefighter, make sure you at least have the yellow helmet to go along with the new identity.  If, like Brenda, you say you are a Catholic priestess, make sure you wear a cassock and rosary (see below).  You can’t be a good bad journalist without the proper gear.

Brenda Lee - our mentor
An AP Photo from the NBC Los Angles article

3. Push your political opinions on those you are going to interview.
Sure, you could ask an interviewee what their stance is on a particular issue, or you can be like Brenda and try to hand the President a note telling him exactly what you want to hear.  Not like anyone cares to hear what the President has to say about gay marriage or anything as trivial as that.

Although her cover was blown, I’m sure that Brenda still advises all future bad journalists to follow this helpful advice.  Make sure you keep a watchful eye out for more bad journalist tips from news people as good as Brenda.