Obama Coverage Mad Libs

"Our D.C. coverage will be (fair and balanced; appearing on alternate Mondays; handled by our Los Angeles bureau)"

From: The Executive Editor

To: All Hands

The first days of the Barack Obama administration would seem to provide a suitable moment to (assess our Washington coverage; announce a new round of layoffs and buyouts; hitch our buggy to that 70 percent approval rating).

As you know, the Washington bureau is (our pride and joy; shut down since about 20 minutes after the Inaugural Address; just around the corner from Ben’s Chili Bowl). Shortly before the election, we (replaced our veteran bureau chief with a former TV producer; jumped aboard the Fred D. Thompson bandwagon; saved a fortune bailing out of the Obama press plane).

More change is coming. Going forward, we must (give our readers what they need to make informed decisions; pander to our readers in a more digital manner; get me into the Gridiron Club).

Our readers can count on us to (beat the ‘team of rivals’ idea to a bloody pulp; obsess over the mother-in-law-in-the-White-House thing in a manner that would exhaust Jay Leno; continue to market our Jan. 20 commemorative edition).

We intend to treat the First Lady as (a serious player on the national stage; Diana Ross; mother of two of the cutest darn kids you ever did see). Her background (at Princeton and Harvard; doing legal baggage-handling for the Richie Daley crowd in Chicago; as mother of two of the cutest darn kids you ever did see) tells us she merits no less.

The past is prologue: Our coverage of the Clinton years was seen by many as (ground-breaking; bimbo-erupting; Newt-inducing). Over eight years, the Bush administration (presented unprecedented news-gathering challenges; told the truth about as often as a hedge-fund manager; played us like an ocarina).

But reliving the past (is more fun than we can allow ourselves to have; not popular with focus groups; would be bad news for Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales). I know I speak for all of us when I say that nothing is more important than that we (report the news without fear or favor; get some face time with Rachel Maddow; have someone in our bureau who can play basketball at least as well as David Axelrod).

It’s clear the Obama inner circle regards the working press as (an important constituency; an oxymoron; a gaggle of pushy wage slaves who aren’t on television). Early indicators suggest they view us as (not unlike a roving tribe of carny workers; guardians of the public trust; putty in their hands).

The truth is that our new president (has embarked on a historic and difficult journey; is more popular than Snuggie blankets and ShamWow combined; will pretty much do whatever he wants until the polls start sagging). We must (continue to play our historic, keep-them-honest role; bend to his steely-eyed will; make sure all our reporters are taking plenty of pictures when they report their stories). Speaking for myself, I look forward to a day when we (hold the new president accountable for his campaign promises; get Malia and Sasha on a postage stamp; are mentioned in a song by Bono).

It is not enough that we (meet our profit margins; gratefully accept profane, spittle-flecked abuse from the blogosphere; continue to showcase political columnists who were wrong about nearly everything). No, we must (generate pointless redesigns and “new” sections; adapt to a changing news environment; continue to alienate and ignore our base while reaching out to people who will never, ever buy our product).

None of this will be easy. Our Washington bureau, once more than a dozen strong, is (moving out of the National Press Building to an undisclosed location; Twitter-based; providing my nephew, Brandon, with some handy real-world experience).

But with (a clear consumer focus; an infusion of cash from overseas; a newsroom attitude adjustment, and I’m not kidding), we can, as the new president said, do the work that must be done.

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Steve Daley is a former reporter and columnist for the Chicago Tribune.