Check it, Peons: Your CNN Humiliation Compartmentalized


The Museum of Peon Exhibits (the MOPE) seeks to shed light on lowly CNN Video Journalists. Within these hallowed walls we sing the pathetic song of unsung Broadcast News heroes. This is the history of the downtrodden, the corn-and-rice at 3am eaters. Please enjoy these artifacts collected and preserved with care by VJDutton.

My CNN VJ badge. I distinctly remember wearing this badge and looking at it as I sat down to pee. What a thrill! Working for CNN! I was going places. Then I heard the cafeteria lady in the next stall grunting as she took a shit.

Historic VJ moment: This CNN postcard was shot from the Olympic Park in Atlanta. When a bomb went off there on July 27th 1996, I was ripping scripts in VJ Land. The whole building shook. Immediately after, rumors circulated around the newsroom that some Producer wanted us VJs to go over to the park to get the story. This was when I realized just how disposable we were.
Ultimately, everyone working that night won an Emmy. All you had to to do was contact the PR department and they'd give you a certificate.

Side note: It's pretty fitting for this museum that I managed to keep all this useless crap and cannot find my Emmy certificate.

PR stunt, circa 1996. An enterprising young VJ literally aspired to make a name for himself by passing out these pens embossed with his name throughout the CNN newsroom. His big moment of triumph came when he saw anchor Lou Waters using one on the set.

Anchor/ Greg Christensen Pen User Lou Waters. His perfectly coiffed hair was achieved by...

Making Video Journalists scatter and scramble to find his Vavoom hairspray. "Where's my Vavoom? Where's my Vavoom?" is a refrain that still haunts many past VJ’s to this day.
A signed Lou Waters and Natalie Allen photograph and the authentic Lou Waters Name plate from his office door.

Vintage Artifact: Tacky Finger. This was the gloop we used to facilitate script-ripping back when the scripts had carbon sheets in between three different colors of paper. These scripts had to be separated and given to important people. Anchors got the white/pink copies while directors got yellow. VJs really did "rip" scripts back then. It was quite professionally satisfying when one managed to rip all the carbon sheets out in one solid pull.
True fact: If you gave someone the wrong script color, it was a grave, punishable offense.
Vintage Artifact: A dot matrix wire story print out. While I have tried desperately to recall why I haphazardly wrote "Cheese Whiz" and "Miracle Whip" on a story about a man who caught a four pound salmon with a tuft of his wife's pubic hair, I am at a loss. This could not have been a grocery list, as I could not afford fancy brand names. Evidence of this fact can be found here:
An official Peon Pay Stub.
Pay special attention to the note I wrote to myself in the Message section. Honestly though, I don't know why I needed to remind myself that my salary sucked shit.
I found this International SOS Assistance Card stuck to the back of this Value Plus Card. I'll tell you one thing. Seeing as how I spent my days running the TelePrompter not running though war zones with a cameraman, I got a lot more use out of the Value Plus card.
A 1997 promotional brochure called, "A Day In The Life of CNN". Notice how all the other employees are referred to by their names except us VJs running the antique TelePrompter.

Also note the lone, vintage pubic hair that somehow attached itself to this brochure. I'm pretty sure it's not mine.
A 1998 printout of The Roz Files. As you can see, this important artifact has been preserved behind glass. For the uninitiated, The Roz Files began as a Read Me petition to save a controversial hashslinger from getting booted out of the Hard News Cafe. While the petition was unsuccessful, The Roz Files are legendary. To this day whenever there is a heated CNN Read Me war, some employee will inevitably chime in with, "What Would Roz Do?"
Graffiti from the temporary walls set up by construction workers at CNN Center in Atlanta, circa 2011. The Roz flame shines on!

Corn and Rice, a renowned Hard News Cafe meal "enjoyed" by broke VJs. Tips for making these sad vittles edible include: sprinkling hot sauce on it, pouring soy sauce or French dressing over it and closing your eyes and dreaming of a better life while eating it. By 1998 the Hard News Cafe got an upscale makeover, and they no longer offered this traditional Peon cuisine.
Believe it or not, people were outraged when denied the right to eat corn and rice for dinner.
This internal memo is from election night 1996. Even as a Peon, I found it astonishing that CNN felt the need to spread the glad tidings that they'd be serving us a "hot meal". I thought to myself, is this a news network or a soup kitchen?
But of course there was pandemonium in the Hard News Cafe that night as people scratched and clawed, trying to get their free "hot meal".
No such memo was sent out to inform us that we'd be receiving this attractive commemorative pin for our election night efforts.
Two Artifacts For The Price of One:
1. This beautiful drawing of my booger is on official CNN stationary.
2. There's an official Hard News Cafe coffee stain on it.
Here I am working hard in the studio, wearing a Jackass Necklace that a fellow Peon was kind enough to purchase for me from the Grand Canyon.
A close up of the Jackass Necklace, which is the perfect symbol of the Peon Experience that is VJ Bootcamp.