Keep a dog. Bark yourself

21 Dec

THE Editor is excited. He’s been watching a video about a talking dog on YouTube – and the Press Association has filed a story on the dog and he wants it in tomorrow’s paper. So we’re sitting in his office ready for afternoon conference and he turns his computer screen round so we can all watch the vid.

Editor: “Watch this. This is the most viewed video on YouTube this year and it’s absolutely brilliant. This is the talking dog being teased by its owner. I want it in the paper with a headline that says Chatter Boxer. Only it isn’t a boxer but that doesn’t matter. Watch this.”

The video comes on and we watch the talking dog. A man’s voice tells the animal he has eaten all the good things in the fridge and given the rest to a cat. And the dog says things like: “Oh no, not the maple syrup-flavoured bacon.” It’s mildly entertaining. Then the video finishes and the Editor sits back in his executive chair and smiles.

Editor: “Bloody great, that. That’s a classic.”

We all smile with him. And now that the entertainment has drawn to a close, we wait for him to invite Barry the Business Editor to open conference with a rundown of his top business stories for tomorrow’s paper. But Barry the Business Editor jumps in first.

Business Editor: “Yeh, well the dog wasn’t actually talking, it was some bloke in the background who was throwing his voice when the dog opened its mouth.”

A moment’s silence.

Editor: “Yeh. Thank you Barry. I think we grasped that. I think that if the dog had been genuinely talking then that might just have been the biggest fuckin’ story since Noah’s Ark.”

Business Editor: “Well I just thought I’d point that out because you told us it was a talking dog. But it wasn’t a talking dog. It was a dog opening and shutting its mouth in time to a human talking.”

Editor: “What? Are you saying the dog knew what the bloke was going to say so it opened its mouth like a ventriloquist’s dummy? Are you implying there was some sort of co-ordination here or that the dog was following a script?”

Business Editor, smiling pleasantly though shifting uncomfortably in his chair: “No, Boss. I was just pointing out that it wasn’t a talking dog. It was just an ordinary dog and a human throwing his voice.”

Editor: “Jesus. Right, that’s enough. Unless you’ve got something constructive to contribute to this conference, Barry, I’d be obliged if you’d just fuck off back to your desk and leave us to get on with the important stuff.”

Business Editor, still smiling: “Okay, Boss. I’ll leave you to it. But I’ll just say, to give you credit where credit’s due, that it was a real, genuine dog – not a toy dog or a make-believe dog. I’ll give you that.”

Barry the Business Editor leaves the office and closes the door behind him. The Editor shrugs his shoulders and gazes round the room.

Editor: “Jesus fuckin’ Christ. If ever the position of Investigative Journalist comes up and I suggest appointing Barry, tell me I want my fuckin’ head examining will you?”

FAST FORWARD: This morning all the nationals go with the story about Ultimate Dog Tease being the most viewed video on YouTube in 2011. Everyone is talking about the talking dog. Few people, though, notice this article tucked away at the foot of the business page in the Nitherley Observer and Bugle:

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