From the mouths of babes

Stop the Presses column by Chris Graham

“How do you know who to interview?”

“Well, I … uh …”

Talk about being speechless.

Try explaining what you do for a living to a group of eighth-graders.

I’m still all crossed up trying to figure out which end is up.
“Are you a liberal or a conservative?”

“Er …”

“Do you ever have to cover murders?”

“Um …”

“How much do you get paid?”

I had been invited a few months back to talk about the life of a journalist by Stewart Middle School.

Being a journalist, I waited until deadline to begin thinking about what I was going to say for what turned out to be a four-hour event.

“What are they going to ask? I know – the most famous person that I’ve ever interviewed. Yeah. I’m sure that one will come up.”

This I was saying out loud to myself last week as I made my way down the hall in the direction of the classroom where I’d be lecturing.

For the record, that one didn’t get asked of me – it turns out that the kids are a lot farther along in the what-I-want-to-do-for-a-career department than I was at their age/still am.

“Is it a good idea to go into a journalism program?”

“I want to be an entertainment writer. Do you know anybody at Rolling Stone who could help me get an internship?”

“Come on, how much do you get paid?”

When I was in eighth grade, I was still trying to decide whether I wanted to be a football star or a baseball star – or both.

(By ninth grade, when it had become apparent that I was athletically challenged, I settled on another career path – sports agent. Hey, you can’t say that I lacked for imagination.)

“Have you ever thought about writing for a big newspaper or magazine?”

“How hard is it to become a network news anchor?”

“Is there such a thing as civil-rights journalism? If not, how hard would it be for me to start it?”

I’m thinking about hiring several of these kids to help me fill the pages of the AFP.


The problem is, well, one, the fact that there are child-labor laws preventing me from following through.

And two, hey, let’s be honest here. The way these kids approached their inquisition of me, it wouldn’t be long before they’d have me carrying their notebooks and pens for them.


Chris Graham’s Stop the Presses column appears on this blog on Tuesdays and Fridays. For more on Chris Graham’s humor columns and other fiction writing, visit

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