Failed Tabloid Hack Tells All!
In the late '80s, I applied for a job as a writer at the National Enquirer.
While it was the Enquirer that was looking for someone, at the time, my favorite tabloid was the Weekly World News, a fact that was reflected in the cover letter I sent, which began: "I would give one of my right arms to work for the National Enquirer..."
But apparently the people at the National Enquirer liked my approach as well. Two days after I sent out my letter, I received a thick packet from them. The speed of their response was amazing, especially given the fact that I was writing from California and their offices are located in Florida. It almost seemed as if they must have intercepted it en route somewhere, to reply so quickly; it was a great testament to the power of their network of spies and contacts...
Included in the packet they sent was a letter thanking me for my interest, and requesting me to take a "copy test." Along with this letter, they had included material two stringers had filed; my task was to take that material and turn it into Enquirer-ready copy. One story was about the world's oldest living pilot; the other was about a recent Roman vacation Mary Tyler Moore had taken with either her husband or her fiancee.
It was pretty boring material, but I did my best to truncate my own overly long sentences and confine my adjectives to only those that ended with the letter "y". Alas, my performance was not up to par; I didn't get the job. Afterwards, it occured to me that they had probably been expecting me to embellish these stories - i.e., it was actually Mr. T with whom Mary Tyler Moore had been consorting in Rome, in a drunken, debauched tour of the city that had the locals reminiscing about the good old days of Caliguan excess...the world's oldest living pilot was now blind in one eye and thus his airborne achievements were further distinguished by the fact that he could only safely make right turns...
Ever since, of course, I've cursed my stupidity. All those years when I was doing boring marketing writing I could have been documenting the glittering and tawdry lives of Michael Jackson, Madonna, O.J., etc.
Oh, well. I recount this sad episode as preface to the news that I've begun subscribing to the Enquirer; I received my first issue yesterday. While it's great to know the intimate details of Kathie Lee's heartbreak well before those who purchase their copies at the newsstand do, I was a bit surprised to learn that what I'm getting is not actually The National Enquirer, but rather, The New National Enquirer.
I'm not really sure if this "new" thing is indeed a new thing, or if they've been referring to themselves this way for a while now. Essentially, it seems to be the same old Enquirer - various celebrities are pregnant, JonBenet Ramsey's still dead, Michael Jordan has authorized yet another set of collectable plates with his over-merchandized mug on them...
There is a brief explanation of the "new" appelation; it reads: "Like a growing list of celebrities, Michelle [Phillips] knows that The Enquirer doesn't publish stories about two-headed aliens or Elvis coming back." Which seems kind of odd because, to my knowledge, the Enquirer hasn't published those kind of stories in at least 20 years, maybe longer. I know celebrities can be kind of stupid sometimes, but has it really taken them that long to figure out what the "new" National Enquirer is all about?
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