Today I got an email from the National Newspaper Association. It said the prestigious organization that presumably has the best interests of membership at heart was assisting a production company in finding a newspaper to use for a “documentary.” It said to read the casting call, which began, “What’s your small-town paper like? Do you work hard? Make each other laugh? Is your team a real version of ‘The Office’ meets ‘Park and Recreation?’” It goes on to say the production company is hoping to produce a “documentary style reality show” featuring a small-town paper and, if I were interested, I could reply to firstname.lastname@example.org. I didn’t get around to that, but, if I had, it would have gone a little something like this:
My name is Clay Lambert and I’m the editor of the Half Moon Bay Review. I guess to put it in the terms you will recognize, I’m the Michael Scott of this office.
I hear you are looking for a newspaper like ours to … showcase? Is that the word? That’s really, really exciting. I’m sure Honey Boo Boo and all The Bachelors would agree that seeing their images on the small screen is terrifically validating, no matter how much they’ve been drinking.
Maybe it only looks like a train wreck here in booneville because we’re simple people. You may also have different theories of editing than we do at the newspaper. We just try to tell the truth about our neighbors. It can be really tedious. We just report the big events of their small lives – births, marriages, high school sports championships … unimportant things like that. Unfortunately, that probably doesn’t make for scintillating “reality” television. Sorry about that. …
Perhaps if we cajoled the mayor and his political adversary to go out for drinks every week and trained a camera on them until they got a little tipsy and brawled just a bit. There’s a scene like that on “Real Housewives” pretty much every hour, right? I’m sure all that is spontaneous though. Big-city people are just different.
Truth is, we do have some characters around here — nobody as good looking as Rob Lowe’s character on “Parks and Recreation,” mind you. But I’m sure we do some small-town stuff that would be hilarious to all of you down there in West Hollywood. Why, just the other day a local guy walked in to complain about the fact that his arrest for public intoxication appeared in our police log. He’s had a terrible drug problem and a traumatic brain injury. I tried to treat him like a human being, but I can see that is the wrong approach. I can make it funnier next time, maybe shoot for more of an Andy Taylor and Otis the drunk approach. I’ll work on it.
It certainly would be great publicity to appear regularly on television. Imagine: People in Peoria would know about the Half Moon Bay Review and its goofball editor. That would be cool, I guess.
So, by all means, please bring your team to Half Moon Bay. It would be a pleasure to be your national laughingstock. If you want, we can re-arrange the desks just like the desks in “The Office.”