By Arthur Alpert
I had a dream.
In my reverie, journalists ran the Albuquerque Journal.
And I was wandering, invisible, through the newsroom when I happened on the morning meeting. So I eavesdropped.
“Hey, the Tea Party is a huge national story. Why don’t we go after the New Mexico angle?” said an editor.
“We talk to the tea partiers and regular Republicans both. Find Win Quigley and get him on his way to D.C. Have him rendezvous with Coleman and sit down with Pete Domenici.”
“Pete’s take on the Tea Party will make a helluva story. And talk to him about the libertarians, too, which he never was. Win focuses on the economics and Mike deals with the politics.”
“Oh, and listen, while they’re debriefing the Senator, we’ll have Sean Olson talk to the Tea Party and Rio Grande Foundation and, er – where’s Mickey Barnett?”
“Hey, we may wind up with two or three pieces.”
Minutes later, Rivka Brodsky walked past and the editor called to her. “Rivka,” he said, “remember those stories you did on the ‘Shame’ signs and the California union behind them?”
“Sure,” she said.
“Well, I keep seeing them, so let’s pursue it further. First, try to get more on that union. Google ‘em. Maybe somebody at AP, California, knows something. Secondly, why not get Carter Bundy at AFSCME on the record. What does he think of his brothers (the editor giggled here) in organized labor?”
I left to get some coffee and when I returned, another editor was shaking his head about Blue Cross Blue Shield.
“You know, guys, we were on top of that for a while, then the darn Independent grabbed it. Trip Jennings. I think it was, discovered fat executive salaries at BCBS and they have huge reserves, too. And I hate being beaten on a story. Who wants to grab the ball and run with it?”
I was smiling from ear to ear. (Invisibly.) This is the way I remembered the news business – happy troublemakers out to beat the competition, to advance stories and find little truths on the way to bigger revelations.
And then – incredibly – my dream got better. Seeing an editor conferring with investigators Colleen Heild and Mike Gallagher, I sidled over.
“So that’s what we will do,” the editor was saying. “Instead of just following Denish and Martinez, we’ll set the agenda. It’s agreed, right, that New Mexico deserves better state government – more effective and less costly?”
“So you two head out. Colleen, you take Minnesota or Wisconsin. Thanks to the old progressive movement, they both have decent state governments. Ditto, Washington and Oregon, so Mike, figure out which is better, go there and find out why.”
”We’ll do a series on how to make the state work better and call it, ‘Enchanting Government’ or something cute like that. We compare how those states do the job to the New Mexico system. And then we get the candidates to take a stand on what we must change.”
The editor stood up.
“I like it. No, I love it. And remind me to have marketing submit the series for a Pulitzer.”
And then I woke up. The real Journal was in the driveway.