Friday, November 07, 2008

Adam Smith: A great (honorary) American

And a Brummie beheld a new day dawning in America, had a pint -- or six -- and, yea, he spaketh unto his newspaper across the waters, the Birmingham Mail.

"F*** you. I quit," sayeth Adam Smith -- a.k.a., Steve Zacharanda . . . a.k.a., "Mate, could you spare a quid?" -- and, behold, a Dutch-American web journalist presenteth his message unto YouTube, and YouTube speaketh unto Smith's masters at the Birmingham Mail.

It is written: "You can't quit; you're fired."

OF COURSE, the rest of the British press is having a jolly good time with all of this. The Times of London, for one:
Sometimes, you wake up following a drunken night out and realise you have sent an inappropriate text to an ex-girlfriend or your boss.

And sometimes you realise you have drunkenly admitted to plagiarism to camera, and spectacularly resigned from your job, shouting "F**k you' to your boss.

This is what happened to Birmingham Mail reporter Adam Smith on Wednesday morning, as footage appeared on YouTube of him writing a report on the US election, slumped on a Miami pavement, and barely able to speak.

Mr Smith, who also calls himself Steve Zacharanda in the hit video which was viewed almost 20,000 times in 48 hours, had taken a week's holiday to go to Miami to volunteer for the Barack Obama election campaign.

After the victory, and very much the worse for wear and drink, Smith was caught flopped against a set of railings, a laptop on his lap, filing an article about Mr Obama's victory for the Mail.

The maker of the video, a Dutch amateur journalist from Couscous Global, had stumbled across Smith by the roadside, and asked him what he was doing.

"I jumped on a plane on Friday to volunteer for the Barack Obama campaign," Mr Smith explained in a strong, if rather slurred, Brummie accent. "As an ill-advised promise, I've decided to say to my paper back home that I'd write about the American election.

"I wanted to be here because I'm here for history. The trouble is, the readers of the Birmingham Mail are going to get my version of history. And I'm just a little bit pissed..."

With a laugh and a clap of the hands, he added: "And thank god for the BBC, because I'm cutting and pasting, oh, baby!"

Not wanting to seem too unprofessional, he added: "I'm a proper news journalist."

To pile further misery on his ignominy, Mr Smith ended the video by announcing: "My name is Adam Smith, also known as Steve Zacharanda, who has just resigned from the Birmingham Mail, the Birmingham Post and the Birmingham Sunday Mercury, to set up my own magazine…F**k you, I'm doing what I want."

Mr Smith's employment status remains unclear today within a company which is undergoing significant restructuring.

Steve Dyson, editor of the Birmingham Mail, said: "This is an internal matter, so we cannot discuss it."

Asked about the company's attitude towards plagarism, he added: "Whilst we cannot discuss internal matters, plagarism will not be tolerated in any form by BTM Media Limited - although we do not believe that any has been taking place."

DEAR NEW YORK POST, I think you've just found Steve Dunleavy's replacement.

Meantime, Smith was "a bit scared to speak to work." No doubt.

"There's been words like outrageous, bringing the company into disrepute," he told the amateur videographer/reporter for Couscous Global. Actually, I found Smith to be a breath of fresh air.

Usually, you don't find reporters who are that honest and, frankly, hilarious. Give me a Brummie scribbler who's just a bit pissed (in the tipsy Brit sense of the word) any day, instead of 47 self-important, faux-objective "contributors" on American cable networks.

Disrepute? My ass.

Adam Smith took vacation time to come to America and volunteer for Barack Obama's campaign in Miami. His editors -- despite this -- prevailed upon him to write an election piece for the Birmingham News. Sans editor's note or "opinion" tag.

Who, then, ought to take ownership of the disrepute?

And, really, Smith didn't put together so bad a piece for being three sheets to the wind. Could have been much better, yes. But fairly remarkable for being that tanked.

The newspaper -- imagine! -- has taken down Smith's election piece, which (as far as I can tell) shows no sign of having been a "cut and paste" job at the BBC's expense. But you can find it here:

BIRMINGHAM Mail reporter Adam Smith is in America as Barack Obama is named as the next president. Here is his take on the atmosphere in the US:

A NEW chapter in world history has begun, and whatever happens, people in America will never forget this moment.

The people of the USA have elected the remarkable Barack Obama as their first African-American President.

Barack Hussein Obama, the son of a black Kenyan student and a white American woman, swept to power after millions of voters gave him a mandate for change.

Just 52 years after Rosa Parks started the Civil Rights movement by refusing to give up her bus seat, millions of Americans from all different races flocked to polls to elect Mr Obama.

In what will be regarded as one of the greatest political speeches in history, Barack Obama today reawakened the ‘American dream’.

In front of a crowd of 125,000 in Chicago, the President elect said: “I believe in the America that says to every challenge ‘‘Yes We Can’.

“The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

“And I promise you we as a people will get there.”

OK, Obama's speech was quite good. But "one of the greatest political speeches in history" is pretty far over the top. Even for an Obama volunteer.

I attribute the hyperbole to breaking the four-pint barrier.

On the other hand, is Smith's piece much more gushing than that of "objective" American journalists who weren't -- at least officially -- volunteering for Obama-Biden '08? And the guy, as evidenced by the second video, has a love of America that even Sarah Palin couldn't call into question.

Just for that, as a colonist, you have to love the bloke.

SO, LET ME make this official. Adam Smith is my new journalistic hero. And I'd be proud to down a pint or three with him any day.

Crunchy Con.

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