You know you’re not working for a newsgathering organization when (and this is all purely hypothetical, mind you):

1. You pitch your editor an idea for a column in which you would review products for people who work in industry X. The pitch goes something as follows: “So, the way it works is, companies would send us press releases on their products, and we call up people working in the industry who’ve actually used whatever it is we want to write about, and we just print whatever they say.”

And your editor responds: “What if the companies don’t like what we write?”

2. The company won’t run ads in its newsletters because it says that would compromise the publications’ objectivity.

3. Your editor makes you rewrite a story so that it matches the marketing copy for a new product your company is trying to sell. Your company says the product can do X. Your editor tells you to write a story about doing X. You call three sources and ask them if they think people need to do X. Two say no. One of those two sources knows your company’s reputation (bad), and he says, “People don’t need to do X, and even if they did, your product wouldn’t help them anyway.” A third source says maybe people should do X, but only if doing X won’t cost anything.

You write a story saying what your sources said. You show it to your editor. She gets mad and tells you to call someone else. You don’t have time to do it, but you do it anyway. Your fourth source says people can do X if they want to, but they don’t have to. You think that seems a little closer to what your editor wants to hear, so you run it by her. She gets even more upset.

Finally, you hear from a coworker that another company is working on a product very similar to your company’s product. You think, this may be my ticket out. You call someone at that company and ask her if people need to do X. She says, “My god, yes, it is absolutely essential that people know how to do X.” You add that to your story. Your editor is relieved, but when she does your evaluation, she notes that you sometimes had a hard time coming up with appropriate material.

4. Newsletters have no news.

5. “Editors” have no reporters working under them.

6. Your boss actually says, “There’s no ‘i’ in team.”

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