How Student Journalists Are Like Barney Stinson

I’ve been watching insane amounts of “How I Met Your Mother.” Seriously. Since things are starting to wrap up here at school, I’ve had a lot more free time than usual–resulting in watching the first three seasons of this sitcom in the span of about two weeks.

I’m not sure how many of you watch this show, but the character Barney Stinson (played by Neil Patrick Harris) is the epitome of all the negative male stereotypes: basically, he’ll do anything (and everything) to get laid.

During a conversation a few days ago with my friendPrisha, I came to the realization that–if you replace ‘getting laid’ with ‘getting the perfect story’–student journalists are just like Barney Stinson.

We’re obsessed with finding the perfect stories and interviewees, and will exert as much energy as possible to make everything work out for us in our favor. When you’re a student, and don’t have the power of something like the Beeb or The Guardian behind you, it’s not always easy to score the necessary interviewees. So, you have to make yourself sound as enticing and important as possible. This usually involves replacing “student” with “freelance journalist” when trying to score a coveted interview or press pass.

Barney is obsessed with having a different woman every night, and will pull stunts like this in order to get what he wants:

And just like Barney ditches the girls after his womanizing shenanigans, once we jump through all of the hoops and get what we want, the interview, the press pass, etc, that’s usually the end of the relationship. We have everything we need to put together a good story, and that’s it!

But fortunately for us, most interviewees don’t end up hating our guts after we’ve had our way with them…

Advertisements

Best Headline EVER!

‘Stoned wallabies make crop circles’: As I was browsing the top news stories on the BBC’s website, this headline immediately caught my eye.

Many of the news stories that we read every day are simply factual, and far from entertaining. Day in and day out, we hear of the horrors and injustices going on around the world.

Bombs exploding, and killing innocent bystanders. Women being stoned to death for extramarital affairs. Floods tearing apart entire towns.

Not to say that we shouldn’t hear about these things, but it was refreshing to see this silly headline as one of the day’s top stories.

As journalists, we become like sponges in our quest to soak up as much information about the world around us as possible.

We’re always looking for the next story to share with the world. Most of the time, these stories portray the uglier side of human existence. After awhile, you can’t help but become at least a bit hardened from everything you hear.

‘Stoned Wallaby’ Headline

I’m not sure who wrote this article, but I can imagine that this was their highlight of the day.

I can imagine the scenario of what it must have been like to read through all of the copy stories, and land upon that gem:

Supermarkets start fuel price war

Climber dies in mountain accident

Stoned wallabies make crop circles…hang on a tick…what?! Stoned wallabies? Crop circles? Jackpot!

So what’s the story all about, anyway? Basically, wallabies in Australia have started roaming into poppy fields. They eat the opium poppies, get high, and run around in circles.

Have we cracked the mystery behind crop circles? The article says that sheep have been known to do this as well.

Crop circles: the mysterious work of aliens, or the result of stoned animals? You decide!

The End of the World Cult

“When people ask me if I’ve been brainwashed by Michael, I say, ‘Yes I have been brainwashed. Michael has washed my brain of all my sins.'”

This was just one of the chilling quotes that struck me while watching The End of the World Cult documentary on Channel 4’s website.

The documentary by British journalist Ben Anthony, from 2007, gives a glimpse into the lives of the Strong City cult. The cult, which is in a remote town in New Mexico, believed that the world would end on October 31st, 2007.

A man named Michael Travesser, formerly known as Wayne Bent, is their leader. Their ‘Messiah.’

He claimed that he was the ‘chosen one’. That God spoke to him and told him the date for the end of the world. That our human existence is doomed, and the only way you can be saved is if you follow his word.

End of the World, End of Innocence

And what is his word, exactly? Based on what this documentary shows, it includes giving up ‘our world’ and doing whatever Michael–the Messiah–says.

This includes sleeping with his son’s ex-wife. Taking two women as his ‘witnesses’, and sleeping with both of them. Forcing everyone to give up their possessions to him. And most disturbing of all: him laying naked, in bed, with teenage virgins.

Some people were smart enough to escape the cult. However, some children were left behind. There were three teenagers whose parents forced them to leave, but the stronghold of Michael’s brainwashing was too strong.

Once they left Strong City, they went on hunger strikes. They harmed themselves. Some even threatened to kill themselves. And so, they ended up back into the clutches of Michael.

One of the most haunting things about this documentary was the look in the eyes of his followers. When speaking with or about Michael, they all had the same wide-eyed look of complete and utter devotion. 100% certainty that his word was as good as God’s.

‘This is the end. My only friend, the end.’

Obviously, the end of the world did not come. It’s nearly 2010, and we’re all still here.

So what happened with the Strong City cult? Sadly, the cult still exists. On the bright side, Michael Travesser was jailed for 10 years for sexual misconduct with minors.

But even in his prison cell, he’s able speak to his followers.

It’s hard to tell what his followers are thinking, and how they felt about his false prediction of doomsday. Obviously, there are those that will follow his word no matter what the actions are (or aren’t, in this case).

Going back to the Ben Anthony documentary, I can’t help think back to the crazed looks in their eyes. Although this was a controversial documentary, I think anything that can provoke such intense reactions is something worth watching.

Better take the time to watch it before the world comes to an end…