Why Journalists Make Jack Squat

When I graduated from high school 8 years ago, chemical engineering was ranked as the #1 field to major in, based on the average starting salary of college graduates the previous year.  What field was ranked last?  Journalism.   

And now you’re about to read why.

I don’t mean to blast journalists.  Some of the people I admire most are professional journalists.  Real journalists do their homework, tell the truth to the best of their knowledge, and write or say compelling content.

Unfortunately for them, there are thousands of low-paid folks out there who call themselves journalists but only serve to embarrass their names, their newspapers, and their profession.

But the saddest part about these journalists is that more often than not, the poor people who read their articles or watch their TV shows are not privy to the misinformation they’re being fed.  If the general public reads something in the paper, most of them automatically take it to be true.

Now, let’s examine a recent review of the “Scorpion King.”  The writer in this case is Wesley Morris and the article appeared in the Sunday edition of the San Francisco Chronicle on 4/28/02.

It doesn’t take one sentence for there to be a huge screw-up.  Read the very first line of the article:

“Last month at WrestleMania 8…”

What?  Granted, there have been so many WrestleManias that even I lose count sometimes.  But logic tells me there are more than eight.  Eight years ago it was 1994.  Even the average person walking the street has heard of WrestleMania, and I’ll bet a good percentage of those people could tell you it started in the 1980s.  But for a journalist doing an article on the subject, it is simply INEXCUSABLE.  It only took ONE SENTENCE, folks.  Finding out which edition of WrestleMania took place in March is about the easiest fact Morris could’ve looked up.  And he didn’t.

But it gets much better.  Read this line, as he describes the Rock-Hogan main event:

“But anyone who follows wrestling – even a little – knew Hogan was a relic.”

OK, I do know Hogan is past his prime.  Most people know that as well.  But anybody who watched that match knows Hogan received 80-85% of the cheers.  Did they think Hogan was a relic?  If it was so obvious Rock is their new hero, why didn’t he win the crowd’s favor?  For those who follow wrestling, we think Hogan is a relic, but we also know he’s the smartest guy around and duped his boss to new levels of manipulation. 

In case you haven’t figured it out, Morris is commenting on a match he never even watched.  Way to do your homework and embarrass the Chronicle, Morris.

Then Morris tries to show off his considerable knowledge by writing this profound statement:

 “But the kitsch circus element (clowns, face paint, a lot of prancing and jungle prints) of the ‘80s has been tucked with Saturday-morning memories of ‘Muppet Babies’ and ‘Pee Wee’s Playhouse.’”

They were?  Really?  That’s funny, because the only clown I remember wrestling was Doink, and he debuted in 1992.  In the chronology I was taught, 1992 comes after the 1980s. 

As for face paint, let’s look at WCW.  In WCW, Hulk Hogan (you know, that relic from the 80s) set the company PPV revenue record (at the time) in 1997 against the top babyface, Sting.  What did Sting wear on his face?

Now Morris gets to be like those 80s wrestlers and wear something on his face: an egg.  And I guess we’re supposed to forget about all the other guys who wore face paint in the 90s as well, like the Legion of Doom, Ultimate Warrior, Great Muta, Renegade, Demolition, Barbarian, Warlord, Tatanka, etc.  Oh, and who’s that guy on WWE TV right now citing old movie lines in skits with Booker T?  Whew, good thing face paint only existed in the 80s.

Showing he is current, Morris now tries listing some current WWE stars.  Like that new team of:

“Billy and Chucky.”

Unless he is referring to the Child’s Play character, I don’t know who Chucky is.  And no one else does.  Why?  Because there is no wrestler named Chucky.  There is only Chuck.  So he is either referring to that guy who used to team with Sean O’Haire, or that jobber-turned-multi-millionaire who was left paralyzed by messing up a Rocker Dropper from Marty Janetty. 

Now Morris gets critical:

“…professional wrestling – that other microcosm where insecure people feign arrogance, follow bad scripts and choke slam their adversaries.”

OK, but Morris is a film critic, and if bad scripts and feigned arrogance make one insecure, then how many actors are insecure?  Like, all of them?

And who is Morris to comment on bad writing?  If Morris is paying such close attention to the bad scripts, why is he getting all of his facts wrong?  Why?  Because Morris isn’t trying to be a journalist.  He’s trying to be cool, funny, and witty.  He failed at all three.

Here’s another clueless line:

“The Rock, in turn, has taken his act to the only town that really knows how to exploit it – Hollywood.”

Oh no, WWE doesn’t know how to exploit Rock, do they?  They only turned him into the biggest star they have, milked him for all he’s worth, and kept the rights to his name so they can take a percentage of all the profits Rock makes from this movie.  Obviously Morris doesn’t know about WCW and their misuse of Steve Austin, Chris Benoit, and Mick Foley.  THAT is called not exploiting talent.

Speaking of Vince McMahon, Morris writes:

“And he’s found a way to do something no male action star has really ever effectively achieved: lure wives, girlfriends, sisters and daughters to the show to see almost-naked men pretend to hurt one another.”

How many levels is this absurd on?  He speaks of Vince, yet says he’s a male action hero?  Too bad Microsoft Word doesn’t have a LogicCheck function.  I’m guessing he is insinuating that women never used to attend wrestling matches.  If that’s the case, who were all those people who shrieked for the Von Erichs, Shawn Michaels, and the Rock n Roll Express?  And what about Dusty Rhodes, who had the uncanny ability to draw female viewers during his cameos in the late Nitro months?  As for pretending to hurt each other, we all know that story.  Wrestlers might not try to hurt each other, but they do.  If Morris doesn’t believe me, he can ask Dr. James Andrews, who seems to perform weekly surgeries on banged up WWE’ers.   

And there aren’t any film action heroes in Hollywood who pretend to hurt one another, are there?  For stuntmen’s’ sake, I hope so.

More insight:

“(Wrestling) now has a more pronouncedly lurid soap-opera bent…”

Oh boy, he’s really doing himself no favors here.  Soap opera storylines are nothing new in wrestling.  In fact, wrestling has been using soap opera storylines before there were soap operas.  How do you think Bill Watts made so many people watch his TV shows?

Bottom line: if you, the reader, want to read about wrestling, stick to writers who know the business.  And now that you know how factually incorrect many journalists can be, please take EVERYTHING you read in the newspapers about EVERYTHING else, with a grain of salt.  The same grain of salt Mr. Fuji accidentally threw in that impromptu match between Hogan and Yokozuna at WrestleMania 9. 

Wait a minute, according to Morris, WrestleMania 9 hasn’t even occurred yet!