Dear Expert,

I am a journalist writing for Publication, a newspaper/ magazine/ website serving a Major Market or Niche Audience. I am working on a story about Your Area of Expertise, although I’ll admit don’t know much about it.

I wonder: instead of doing research myself on the story I am required to write, would you be willing to talk to me by phone for an hour about it? During this time, I would pose a series of basic questions that demonstrate how little thought and time I have given to the topic, not even enough to Google its key terms. Then I’d love to mis-quote you in my article and also list your affiliation incorrectly in my attribution.

Oh, and I’m on deadline for tomorrow, so it would be great if you could contact me as soon as possible. Thanks!



published July 1, 2009


  1. digiom (Jana Herwig)

    One might want to add:

    Then I’d love to mis-quote you in my article and also list your affiliation incorrectly in my attribution, or possibly use your input without citing you at all, as our readers cannot cope with too many names in one article.

  2. Luis Espinola

    It would be awesome to know what was the inspiration for this.

  3. Ian Bogost


    Hahaha. As someone suggested to me elsewhere, one might also add “Also, if you could send me the names and email addresses of any colleagues I might contact today, I would greatly appreciate it.”


    It’s been sitting in my text editor for months, actually. Every time I get an email of this ilk I revise it a little. I have plenty of friends and colleagues who are good journalists, but, alas, I seem to see a lot more stuff like this.

  4. Borut

    You need to create a pseudonym, maybe even go so far as to publish an article or two under the name. When people write you, tell them you’re busy but suggest this person to help them.

    Then, when asked these frivolous questions, make up the craziest, most incorrect, insultingly stupid shit you can possible think of, and watch it make the article.

    It might be a little far to go for a laugh, it does seem like it would be satisfying. 🙂