Read an Excerpt
News Flash! Money Makes the
World Go 'Round!
My name is Casey Smith, and I'm downloading for dollars.
Sitting at the computer in the Real News office, I was finally getting the appeal of those annoying TV game shows. You know, the ones where you watch people drool over the chance to win mucho dinero. One minute you're an average broke bloke (to use Brit-speak like my Brit-pal Melody), and then presto chango! Easy Street!
At the moment, I was online checking out the special Real News auction site. I wanted to see how high the price had gone for my contribution. Of course, any dollars it reeled in wouldn't be .mine. But going to Real News was as good as landing in my pocket. The newspaper matters that much to me.
We were at the height of fund-raising month at Trumbull Middle School. That meant all of the school clubs were knocking their brains out trying to come up with sure-fire ways to rake in the dough.
"Club" is so not the word for Real News. We don't sit around thinking up cutesy themes for school dances or meet to discuss the finer points of Nintendo (as if there are any!) No-we provide an important service publishing the news each and every week, going where no kids have gone before. Or at least, where Trumbull students haven't gone in the last few years. Last year the school newspaper was declared defunct: canceled for lack of interest.
Until I showed up. I changed all that, resurrecting the newspaper.
Okay, so I didn't do it completely on my own. Megan O'Connor, our editor in chief, also had journalism fever. Only she and I don't always see eye to eye on what constitutes news. Inmy eyes, new shades of pink unleashed on the unsuspecting world do not a news story make. To balance out our yin-yang, we were joined by ring-a-ding Ringo as resident cartoonist, attitudinal Toni Velez as a crack photographer, and jock-of-all-trades, Gary Williams, sports writer. We had our bases covered.
Everyone (well, almost) loves Real News. We're a hit. Our problem was money. In fact, our already minuscule budget had been slashed and first semester wasn't even over yet.
So there was a lot riding on this fund-raiser. We could use new computers, a printer, better paper. Even some pencils would be nice. Our idea was an online auction. Cool, huh? Especially since the real ones are so popular. Kids aren't allowed to bid on those, so we figured they'd go for ours big-time. We did get a lot of donations, with Real News receiving twenty-five percent of each sale. We had a hunch that no one would donate anything unless they got to keep most of the money. Each of us on staff also donated items, and a hundred percent of those sales would go straight to Real News.
The way the auction worked was this: We created a link from the school site where kids could post things they wanted to sell and other kids could bid on them. Because money was involved, everything was closely monitored. Our faculty advisor, Mr. Baxter, insisted on that. Any kid wanting to sell something had to fill out a form that was signed by a parent. After the bidding was finished, the kid who bought the item brought the money to Mr. Baxter, along with another permission slip from a parent. Mr. Baxter is big on permission slips. I guess that's what faculty advisors are for: getting grown-ups to sign things.
Once Mr. Baxter had the money, and took the Real News cut, the seller got an e-mail to come and pick up the moolah.
I was checking on the bids for my donation. I was sure it would be a winner. I had gotten Gram to autograph a copy of her prize-winning book, After Watergate: The Loss of Innocence in American Politics.
Gram was staying with me for a whole year while my parents were away. My parents are doctors with this cool organization called Doctors Without Borders. They travel all over the world and help wherever doctors are needed. Right now they're in Southeast Asia. They took my sixteen-year-old brother, Billy, with them. They said it would be a "cultural experience." I say it was so that Billy wouldn't experience flunking out of high school. He sure was heading that way.
The way I see it, I'm the one with the better deal. It's Journalism Central at my house-my dream life. Having Gram around makes things a lot more interesting here in Abbington, Massachusetts. The Berkshire Mountains are pretty and everything, but scenery only goes so far.
Now I wanted to bring a little of that dreamlife to Trumbull Middle School. Between Real News and Gram's book for the auction, middle school kids could get a taste of what it was to be me, Casey Smith, reporter.
I scrolled through the auction listings. It was like an online garage sale. I spotted a used bicycle, clothes, toys, a few skateboards. Bo-ring! I figured Gram's book should really stand out among all the Alienheads trading cards and back issues of Teen People.
Funny. Gram had tried to talk me out of donating the book. She claimed middle school kids wouldn't be interested. I told her she was just being modest. Who wouldn't want an autographed copy of a book written by a famous journalist?
Well, it turned out-exactly no one.
I stared at the computer screen. I couldn't believe it. The bids were absolutely zilch. A total of zero customers for Gram's prize-winning book.
What were these fools buying? I checked the bids. The hottest-selling items were dorky Alienheads figurines. Sheesh...Get Real #8: Girl Reporter Bytes Back!. Copyright � by Linda Ellerbee. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.