As the person who told the story about Rita Skeeter’s progression into degeneration, I have to say, I rather loved this story. (Excuse the arrogance, but I am rather attached to Rita. Urgh!)
Rita is tricky to write. Yes, she is a complete cow in many sense of the word, but it is hard to get her right. You can’t always portray her as a supremely cocky person all the time, because she has her Achilles’ heel, which is mainly the fact that without her writing, she is nothing. No one to love her, no one to support her. And I could see that vulnerability shining through when she pleads with Amanda (she can’t bear to have her name associated with such a “prosaic” article), and when even the editor himself confesses his dislike for her. One nearly feels sorry for her, but only just.
You captured her arguments really well. True, Rita clothes facts in fabrics of her choice instead of presenting them naked, but you can’t argue the logic behind it. In fact, you can’t even not admire the sheer brilliance of her trickery.
“I don’t make up scandals, Miss Claybourne,” Rita sneered. “I find them. I may exaggerate them, I may choose to feature only a specific and pointed viewpoint, but I write starting from facts. As long as someone despises someone else, and I promise you, everyone is despised by someone, there is scandal to be found.”
Amanda’s face scrunched up. “You certainly don’t stick to the facts,” she said. “You make lots up!”
Rita shrugged, unconcerned. “I do. Details, opinions, perspectives, sources— but the facts! The meaty, sordid facts are real.”
“No, they’re not!” Amanda insisted, her face turning red. “You’re just a liar. You don’t tell the truth unless you’ve got a wand to your head.”
Rita Skeeter laughed out loud. “You silly girl!” She perched herself on the edge of Amanda’s desk. “We don’t sell papers to tell the truth. We give the people facts. It’s not the same thing at all.”
This part was brilliant! You can’t help but concede – she makes sense, she does. And isn’t it true? Don’t people like reading scandalous news?
Amanda Claybourne was a good OC. In her case, I’d have to disagree with the previous reviewer. I pictured her as hating Rita from before (and you do highlight this point early on), and Amanda never really came across as someone who would suck up for brownie points in the office. Besides, you could see that her hard work had been shunted aside for frivolous journalism. I personally wasn’t the least bit surprised by her snappy retort.
Apart from the characterization, you also showed the readers what it is like in a newspaper office. The “business” of the whole place was done nicely, and the editor also seems like a cunning person himself. You know, the type who could run such a whimsical paper like The Daily Prophet.
My only nitpick is that I felt the ending could have been written with more…justice? That isn’t really your fault, though. You wrote it for a challenge, there were word count limits to obey – that can be daunting sometimes.
All in all, I enjoyed reading it. It was funny and enlightening.
Oh, how this made me giggle! I always loved how Rita Skeeter brought comic relief to the series and I really enjoyed what you did with her character. You truly brought out her best (or perhaps worst) aspects.
I quite enjoyed your OC, Amanda Claybourne. She was a well-rounded, fairly feisty individual with lots of drive. Speaking of her ambition, I thought she was motivated almost to a point of excess to get where she wanted to be. In the scene where she accused Rita of not telling the truth (which I adored), my mouth dropped open. It was scandalous how a junior member of the staff treated the veteran! I very nearly expected the next little section of the story to be a “scoop” written by Rita about the rudeness of people who had just left Hogwarts. I thought it was surprising how much gumption Amanda had. It certainly isn’t a bad thing and it fits within the context of the story, but it did take me by surprise. Perhaps you could foreshadow these comments towards Rita a little more so that they aren’t quite so surprising. Maybe having the editor speak a little rudely to her? I liked that he told Amanda that Rita’s hard to work with, but I wanted to see someone else talking back to Rita to justify Amanda’s actions.
What I really liked about Amanda is her dedication. She entered journalism to get rid of people like Rita Skeeter and she sticks to that throughout the story. Although I hate to characterize someone by the House that they were in, I thought that she was an excellent example of a Hufflepuff. Absolutely loyal and dedicated to what she does. I’m afraid that in many cases, authors misinterpret Hufflepuffs and make them weak and/or whiny or don’t really develop their characters. Amanda, though, is a well-characterized Hufflepuff. You really applied the traditional Hufflepuff qualities to her character without overdoing them or making them seem ridiculous. I thought that you did a very good job at depicting her as someone who wanted to make the world a better place through what she can do – journalism.
I’m glad, though, that you did not make Amanda a static character who was simply motivated to get rid of Rita Skeeter. The “compromise” at the end really completed Amanda’s character and made her more rounded. I also thought that it demonstrated an excellent source of humor.
Furthermore, I found Amanda and Rita to be a really interesting juxtaposition. They’re just at completely opposite ends of the spectrum with regards to reporting. Rita’s very much into the human interest side of the story and Amanda’s very much into the facts and truth. Speaking as someone who reads the news, I would have to add that the middle ground between the two of them is really the most interesting. I agree with Rita – there has to be something gossipy – but I also agree with Amanda in that there should be the truth. It’s a bit of a grey area, I think. I’m glad, though, that Amanda eventually came around and didn’t stay quite so idealistic. She wouldn’t have been as strong a character if she had stayed with the facts-only presentation.
One thing that I truly adored was Rita’s characterization. She was extraordinarily similar to her canon counterpart. Her dialogue was really striking: flippant and saucy. This was one of my favorite examples:
“You silly girl!” She perched herself on the edge of Amanda’s desk. “We don’t sell papers to tell the truth. We give the people facts. It’s not the same thing at all.”
Just like the way I imagined Rita. She wouldn’t dare call herself a liar. She just takes facts and twists them until they’re nearly unrecognizable. And I loved how this is absolutely revolting to Amanda, whose moral standards are so much higher than Rita’s.
The structure of the piece really added to the story, I thought. I enjoyed how you divided up so that we saw snippets of the story over a progression of time. It almost made it seem as though someone were reporting specific incidents that were occurring at the news office. One thing that I’d almost wished for was for the last little segment to be slightly longer, with more of a description of exactly what Amanda had done. Did she interview Rita? Research her old articles and present the facts as they should have been? I was really quite curious about it, so I did want to see a little bit more detail at the end, even if it was just in passing and not an actual description of Amanda’s specific actions. Rather like adding this into your line, “Amanda sat at her desk, exhausted after spending half the night interviewing Rita, sending off an autographed copy of her first front-page byline to her grandmother.”
Anyway, I really enjoyed reading this story. It was amusing in all of the right places, Rita Skeeter was absolutely true to canon, and Amanda was a wonderful OC. Lovely, lovely job!
Author's Response: Hi Kelly! Thanks for the beautiful review! Responding to a few points: I think you might be right about the disrespectful interaction between Amanda and Rita, and it's probably the sort of thing that would bother me in other writers' fics. In my head, I saw Amanda as not respecting Rita from the start and then finally snapping. Again, though, I think you are right and I should have foreshadowed the interaction somehow, or better established an atmosphere in which this would happen. I deliberately did not write much in the last section, and in retrospect, I can see how that might be frustrating to a reader. I wanted to offset the article's title from all the surrounding story because it was the joke upon which the story hinged, but I think I may have overdone that. Also, the challenge had a tight word limit, and the last section may have been punished more severely by merit of being written, well, last. I'm glad you found my Rita true to canon. That was my top priority, and I admit I had to work very hard with the dialogue, especially. Thank you for reading and reviewing! I am so happy that you enjoyed my story. ~greenie
Very good story, Greenie. You have captured Rita's character very well and shown just why she's a good journalist - even if she is a muck-raker. And Amanda did need a quick kick. She may want to report only on the facts but surely she has to learn that the facts need some spice.
This was an exceptionally good take on the prompt and I really enjoyed the story. Carole xxx
Author's Response: Thanks for reading it, Carole, and thanks for the feedback!