Cory Spondent wakes up at 4:40am. He rolls over to his open laptop to check his emails. Sure enough, there is an email from his editor asking him why their biggest competitor broke a story before the Daily Allowance. Cory sighs. Maybe he needs to wake up earlier and stop being such a loaf.
Rushing into work, He sees ten of his co-workers hovering around a flat-screen television.
"Who made the top ten today?" he asks.
"Why even ask? You've made it for the fourth day in a row," Jessica, his office nemesis, answers.
To foster a competitive atmosphere, the Daily Allowance lists the top stories of the day. The list is based on how many viewers clicked to a journalist's article. Not only does it foster a cutthroat work environment, but journalists at the Daily Allowance are paid per a click. The more clicks the more moolah and respect you take home. Cory's story about the use of carbon monoxide on meat made the top story list. Carbon monoxide keeps meat looking red, which is appealing to consumers. Cory made the smart move to cover the story in July when people are buying meat for grilling.
"It was just luck," Cory says as he walks back to his desk puffing his chest and thinking of his own love of grilling. He sees his editor waiting for him.
"What are you working on today? I want to see your name up there tomorrow." James says.
James "the Lames" is the type of editor who journalists see in their worst nightmares. He wakes up at 3am to scour their competitor's websites and sends "inspiring" emails at 4am. No one is quite sure how he is able to go without any sleep. There’s a bet going around the office of when he’' going to go off the deep end.
Cory bets it will be tomorrow.
"I'm working on a presidential coverage piece," he said.
James shakes his head, "Nope. I need something more appealing."
"I meant I was working on a piece that covered the presidential elections from the eyes of a dog," Cory says.
"I need more from you, Cory. Dogs have been out for ten years. How about a sasquatch?" James recommends.
Cory spends his morning researching Bigfoot. He calls the Bigfoot Discovery Project in northern California. He interviews the curator to find out if Bigfoot would vote Republican or Democrat. Cory finds out that Bigfoot is an Independent, because he likes small government but feels like there need to be stricter gun laws.
After an hour, Cory has his research down and starts to write the article. Jessica rears her head again, "Hey, what are you working on? Something life changing? Maybe another article about the foie gras debate?"
Cory can't live that one down. He published an article discussing the pros and cons of foie gras on the same day as their competitor published an article. James was furious, because Cory's article did not play up the polarized nature of the subject matter. His article focused more on how farmers force-fed the geese. Anyway, he got nine viewers that day. One of them was Cory's mom.
Cory turns to Jessica, "When was the last time you took home a $1,500 paycheck?" Jessica rolls her eyes and heads back over to her desk.
James walks over to Cory's desk, "I need that article in an hour. I want the graphic design department to get started on the image. I need a blog from you by the end of today. Title of blog: Justin Bieber's Sock Drawer. Call his maid and interview her. Here's her contact information. She's willing to talk about his 30,000 pairs of socks."
Cory gives James a weak smile and tries not to think of his master's degree in journalism from Columbia. He sees it's noon. There's not enough time to grab a decent lunch. Cory goes outside to grab a hotdog from a vender. The sun feels good on Cory's pale white skin. Before he started his career, he was writing articles about the civil war in Rwanda. He got his job at the Daily Allowance after the newspaper he was interning at went under. The Daily Allowance is not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. However, you have to always be ahead of the game. It’s tiring and not quite fulfilling. Cory sometimes thinks of joining the Peace Corps, but he's afraid of the terrible sunburns associated with the jobs in the organization.
He calls the maid and starts writing his article. Someone from the back of the office informs him that his article is no longer in the top ten for the day. Cory checks his own personal blog. A year ago, Cory started an investigative blog about the illegal practices conducted by water bottling companies. It's gotten a lot of traffic in the last couple of months. Not only is his blog personally rewarding, but also he's been able to sell some space on the website to water purifying companies.
He checks the clock. The day is speeding by and he has to finish this Bieber blog. The maid is only too happy to give out information. Apparently, she wasn't a fan of Bieber's last album.
"I gave him some lyrics that my son wrote and Justin totally ignored them," she says. Cory jots down her estimate of the amount of socks she cleans for the pop star each day.
"I ask him why he has so many socks and he just laughs. It's too many if you ask me."
Cory finishes the blog at five. He's been working for almost 13 hours and he needs to go home to work on his blog posting. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees James yelling at Jessica. Cory takes his opportunity to leave.
Before he is able to make it out the door, James sneaks up behind him.
"Cory—good work on the Bigfoot piece. You have a chance for tomorrow's top ten list," James says while giving him an awkward high five.
Cory catches the subway home. He feels good. When things are going great, Cory feels okay about his job. When his blog is going okay, he feels sensational. It's just a tradeoff in this profession.
He checks his viewer rating on his Bieber blog.
"Hmmm. Not bad. Maybe I should write more celebrity news," Cory thinks.