Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I'm inclined to agree with Mr Foglio...

Something fun from today's Buck Godot that I just had to share:

In the Prime Mover’s comprehensive overview of sentient and semi-sentient life within the sphere of the Gallimaufry: Why We're Better Than All Of You Put Together, there are various appendices which deal with predators that feed upon sentients. Journalists are placed within this category.

Despite extremely bad reviews, these concepts were eventually accepted, and the number of journalists a healthy civilization could support was worked out by the mysterious (and, incidentally, scandal-ridden) Mathemagicians of FftFwand, with a very complex and practically incomprehensible formula involving such things as ergs of information multiplied by the number of stress points divided by the intensity of greed waves generated within a specific civilization, et cetera and so on.

Nobody really understood it, but as it called for the euthanasia of vast herds of journalists, nobody really tried too hard.

When the last editorial writers had been shipped off to the re-cycling vats, it was noticed that things seemed a lot quieter, a lot less tense, and things weren't nearly so bad as people had thought they were. Stress levels went down, and the new system was dubbed a success.

Most planets do quite well with a single journalist. Some of the Hub Worlds found that they required as many as one per economic zone. Occasionally, unscrupulous governments have to be chastised for allowing too many journalists to congregate in one spot. This is foolish, although understandable, as their almost constant internecine squabbles are usually a vast source of amusement for the rest of the populace.

Sometimes a journalist will wish to migrate to a different venue. This is permissible, as long as the journalist already occupying the niche in question is either displaced or disposed of. When the challenge is an amicable one, the two journalists compete to capture the heart of the public by each releasing a series of news stories about the area they wish to control. The incumbent usually has an advantage here, as they “know where all the bodies are buried.” The smart journalist usually keeps some juicy scandal buried in their files for just such a challenge. The newcomer, on the other hand, can view the system with fresh, unjaded eyes, and has the additional advantage of being a stranger, and thus a being sentients are still willing to talk to.

These news series are intermittently dumped onto the local infowebs, and the winner is the one who has the least number of “delete” key programs written against them, divided by the number of fresh death threats. In the case of a tie, the rivals sit around a table and attempt to force their opponent to drink themselves to death.

In a hostile takeover, such as in the face of a Hot Story, the newcomer usually just challenges the resident news hawk to a duel to the death, usually by bludgeoning each other with their typewriters. It is interesting to note that as long as the winner registers the kill with the Journalism Guild, most major law enforcement agencies, including the Law Machines, will not treat these killings as murder, but recognize them as a necessary part of the journalist's life-cycle.

Some civilizations have declared all journalists to be vermin and eradicate them whenever possible. This is unwise, both because they serve a legitimate and vital function within the body politic, but also because, when excessively oppressed, journalists tend to become very dangerous.

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