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The Journalist's Credo: Millennium Edition

We know you are frightened, America.

You stand at the cusp of a new century, a new millennium, afraid. You stare into the unknown and wonder what the future might bring. And with no clear answers, with no clear direction, you face a future petrified by the coming turmoil.

We know this, America. Because we are the media.

For years, we have kept you informed and up-to-date on the stories that matter to your lives. We have harnessed our skills as journalists and tapped into the technology to bring you the news right after it happens, as it happens, and sometimes, before it can happen.

We have fulfilled this charge without fail, America. And this year, when the news came especially fast and furious, we proved up to the task. We told you about the Monica Lewinsky scandal in painstaking detail, right up until the last vote of the impeachment trial. When bombs fell is Yugo... um... Bosnia-Herz... er... someplace, we were there, with grainy, state-TV-OK'd footage, to bring the story home to you. We added perspective to the brutal, tragic, ratings-generating death of John F. Kennedy, Jr. And we gave you 5,273 profiles on Columbine High School alone.

There is no need to thank us, America. It's our job.

But perhaps you are worried, America, that as we end 1999, our rich vein of newsworthy events has dried up. With no Menendez Brothers or Heidi Fleisses or Princess Dianas to cover at length and in depth, maybe you're uneasy about the absence of the next Big Story. Maybe, you've reasoned, the media have fallen asleep at the switch.

Oh, America. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Hear us now, America. Wherever there is news, we will take you there. And when there isn't, we'll find some anyhow.

In the coming presidential election next year, we'll be there to ask the tough questions, to find out where the candidates stand on issues that matter to you. How many state capitals can George W. Bush name? Why is Al Gore wearing that color suit? Does John McCain curse like a longshoreman? And Bill Bradley... what about him and the pills?

When five-year-old beauty queens are found dead, America, we will be there, wringing every last drop of news out of the story. And when distant relatives emerge to tell the untold story, we will be there, too, checkbook in hand. We will be there with live, continuous team coverage, with Gerry Spence and Fred Goldman back in our studios.

Because at some time, somewhere, some sort of tragedy of seemingly minor significance will strike. And we will not rest, America, until we've convinced you that this new crisis trumps all else in importance. Whether it's a little girl stuck in a well or a bitter custody dispute between celebrities, we will spare no resource, from our most humble mobile news van to our mightiest SkyChopper. We will bring you the story -- live -- and with many fascinating pictures.

So rest well, America. Know that even as you sleep, the watchdogs of the media are keeping tabs on the comings and goings of celebrities. Sleep tight, as we work around the clock, preparing in-depth reports on the latest in breast augmentation surgery.

Trouble not your mind with complex stories about campaign finance reform, health care and economic issues. Because when we present the news to you, it will be in neat, 60-second packages, peppered with easily digestible sound bites.

And, America, no matter how many gruesome stories of random and unthinkable street crime we broadcast, we vow to end each report with human interest stories of puppies frolicking in public fountains or freckle-faced children playing with kittens.

We provide this to you free of charge, America. All we ask in return is that you watch.

Watch our live coverage police chases and grocery store openings.

Watch the happy talk between our anchors and our jovial weatherman.

Watch our five part series on the fastest way to slimmer thighs and trimmer hips.

Watch and be happy, America. Watch and forget about your humdrum lives. Watch and grow fat.

Just watch, you goddamned sheep.


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