Rewards for the just

11 Jan

IT’S afternoon conference and Big Bernard the news editor has a great story for the front page of tomorrow’s Nitherley Observer and Bugle.

Editor: “Right. Let’s hear it.”

Big Bernard: “In 1996 the Nitherley branch of the Bradford and Bingley was raided by an armed man dressed in a duck outfit who held up staff before getting away with an undisclosed sum of money, and taking with him a Salvation Army charity collector as hostage. The charity collector was later released unharmed. But no one was ever arrested.”

Editor: “Yeh, I remember it happening. Big story at the time.”

Big Bernard: “Well, a retired schoolteacher from Tonbridge, would you believe, appeared at Maidstone Crown Court today charged with the robbery and kidnap and has gone down for ten years.”

Editor: “Wow. Tonbridge. That’s down in . . .”

Big Bernard: “Kent.”

Assistant Editor: “Not only that, boss, but did you know that after the raid we offered a £10,000 reward for information leading to a conviction?”

Editor: “What? We did? Us? The paper?”

Assistant Editor: “Yep. And not only that, but other local businesses chipped in and the final reward totalled £27,000.”

Editor: “Doesn’t that just show you how times have changed? We offered a reward of £10,000? The best we could do now is a couple of vouchers for Greggs the Bakers.”

Assistant Editor: “Ten thousand smackeroos.”

Editor, suddenly panicking: “Jesus. No one’s claiming it, are they?”

Assistant Editor: “Nope. It’s a police thing. No involvement from the public.”

Editor: “Thank fuck for that. Can you imagine what the MD would say if I confronted him with a £10,000 bill from 1996? He’d go absolutely ballistic.”

Big Bernard: “Hey boss. Why don’t you do a wind-up on him? Why don’t you fax him details of the story and a copy of the 1996 headline where we offer the reward, and say a little old lady with a load of cats to feed has come forward and is entitled to the £10,000?”

Editor, warming instantly: “Yehhhh . . . .”

Assistant Editor: “And you could say that in the intervening 16 years, some of the firms that offered money have gone bust – so it’s only right we shoulder their burden, making the total £20,000.”

Editor: “Oh, yesssss. That’ll really get the bastard jumping. It’ll ruin his weekend. Get the stuff together and I’ll fax it this afternoon. Then I won’t answer his calls till next week. Good laugh, or what?”

Two days later, the following article appears on the Hold The Front Page newspaper industry website:

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