Hilarious "Sesame Street" Sketch Pokes Fun at Journalists' Salaries, Goes Viral
"Will work for cookies!"
It's no secret that being a journalist isn't what it used to be. Every day, it feels like some renowned print publication is closing its doors, and a digital one is laying off over half of their staff in one fell swoop. Newspaper employment has fallen by more than 50 percent since 2005, and the starting median salary for a reporter (which hovers around $35,000) is barely a livable wage in most big cities. For many journalists at the beginning of their careers, the hustle is very real, and if you want to get paid to write and still make your rent, you don't really have the luxury of turning down assignments or negotiating a better wage or benefits.
Perhaps that's why this Sesame Street clip is going viral. In the 26-second clip, Cookie Monster tells Big Bird and Abby Cadabby that, "If me take journalist job, we need to discuss salary, and benefits, and time off, oh, and retirement package." Big Bird and Abby whisper to one another briefly, before the latter exclaims, "We'll give ya a cookie!"
"Sold!" Cookie Monster says, slamming his hand on the table. "Me take it." "Me journalist," he says proudly, wearing a reporter's outfit.
Journalists everywhere started to retweet the clip, given that it pretty much accurately depicts salary negotiations when you start a new journalism job.
"Sesame Street is now a documentary," Alan Sepinwal, the Chief TV critic for Rolling Stone, wrote.
Hayes Brown, the Deputy News Editor at Buzzfeed News, wrote that it was "the most searing indictment of digital media hiring I have seen."
Whitney McIntosh, a sports, culture, entertainment writer currently looking for work, wrote that she felt "brutally dunked" by the beloved TV show, adding that, if we're being honest, "everyone in media would work for cookies and we know it."
And Laura McGann, the politics editor at Vox.com, called it a "live shot from every reporter salary negotiation."
Some people feel like Cookie Monster lucked out by not getting offered a cookie-less internship, given his limited experience in the field.
Others are certain the segment must have been written by an ex-journalist because only someone who's been on this financial battleground can capture it so well.
So, if you're a journalist, next time someone asks you whether or not your life is like the movie Spotlight, send them this clip. And for more commiserating over bad pay, check out these tweets about how people's professions in reality differ from the way they're portrayed in movies.
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