The Short Humour Site

Home : Writers' Showcase : Submission Guidelines : A Man of a Few More Words : Links

A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison

Investigative Journalism

John rose from his desk and addressed his five office colleagues. ‘Guys, I want to say a few words. I’ve been working as a civil servant in this department for six months and you are the most hard working, dedicated and useful individuals that the people of this country could wish to have serving them.’

There was a puzzled silence before Amanda spoke. ‘We’d all say the same thing about you, John, but why do you mention this now?’

John continued, ‘I’ve got a confession. You see, I’m not a civil servant. I’m an investigative journalist with the BBC. I came here to expose incompetence and waste of public money, but I’ve found none. Instead, you’ve become good friends and I feel I’ve deceived you all.’

Harry broke the ensuing silence. ‘I feel as bad. I work for Channel 4. I’m here for the same reason. I just wish I‘d had John’s courage and told you first.’

‘Tears welled in Amanda’s eyes. ‘Me too. I work for the Guardian. It looks like the three of us have tricked Peter and Gemma.’

‘Just Peter,’ confessed Gemma, ‘ I work for the Times.’

Peter sat in dejected silence for a minute or more before speaking. ‘This is pretty bad,’ he finally concluded.

‘We’re all so sorry,’ John spoke for the group.

‘It’s far worse than you imagine. I’m not an RE either.’

‘RE?’ questioned Harry.

‘Real Employee,’ answered Peter. ‘I work for the Sun, but I’m not investigating incompetence and waste in government departments. I’m working on an article about the prevalence of investigative journalism.’

‘What do you mean?’ said Amanda.

‘I mean that this office is not atypical. My paper has discovered that undercover investigative journalists are carrying out most jobs in this country. There are two or three typists in Bolton who are just typists, but that’s about it.’

‘When are you going to break the story? John enquired.

‘We’re not. There was a meeting between the government and media bosses and they agreed we had no choice but to maintain things as they are.’

Gemma looked curious. ‘Why?’

‘Because if all the investigative journalist left their undercover positions, the economy would collapse. Also, even if the economy was not destroyed, the employment market could not absorb nearly fifteen million unemployed reporters.’

‘This is a scandal which should be investigated,’ screamed Amanda.

Peter tried to calm her. ‘Some journalists from Channel Three are investigating why there are so many journalists investigating undercover journalism, but it won’t solve the fundamental problem.’

‘What can we do?’ she sobbed.

‘The only answer,’ concluded Peter, ‘is for everyone to forget the media they work for and carry on with their current posts. Most, like ourselves, are doing the work of REs better than REs ever did.’

‘It’s rewarding doing a proper job like this,’ said John. ‘Hounding innocent people and inventing malicious lies about celebrities always seemed a bit pointless.’

The five sat in silence for some minutes and then, one by one, recommenced their departmental duties.