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Telling NJJN’s story with Milk Duds, a bunny, and baseball
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Just Because

Telling NJJN’s story with Milk Duds, a bunny, and baseball

Gabe Kahn is the editor of The New Jersey Jewish News.

Get Out of My Way, Old Man! Photo by Orly Kahn
Get Out of My Way, Old Man! Photo by Orly Kahn

We live in dark times (see pages 1-11 and 13-24), so I’m hoping to inject a little levity into your day. This is a transcript of an actual interview my son, Evan, 8, conducted with NJJN staff a few months ago when he and my daughter, Orly, 6, spent the day at our office in Parsippany. A few things you should know going in: Chubbs is a bunny, owned by NJJN Senior Writer Johanna Ginsberg, who frequents the office; Classified Sales Supervisor/Office Manager Laurie Sirois keeps a bottomless bowl of candy in her office for visitors; and Evan loves baseball. A lot.

Johanna Ginsberg, NJJN Senior Writer

Evan Kahn: Do you think adopting Chubbs was a good idea?
JG: Yes, adopting Chubbs was a very good idea. He’s soft and snuggly, smart and fun.

EK: Do you think Chubbs would be a good office mascot? I heard he doesn’t participate really well for pictures.
JG: He participates well in some pictures if you know how to take them.

EK: Do you think my dad is bossy?
JG: [Suspiciously long laughter] Only when he tells me I have to bring in Chubbs.

EK, after approximately 50 seconds of what sounds like furious scribbling into a notebook: OK.

Shira Vickar-Fox, NJJN Managing Editor

EK: So what’s your name?
SVF: My name is Shira. Do you want to know how to spell it?

EK: I know. How long have you worked here?
SVF: Three long years. Make sure you say that.

EK: Do you enjoy everybody who works with you?
SVF: Everybody but one.

EK: What’s your favorite story that you edited during your time at NJJN?
SVF: I really liked a story about a synagogue janitor who played in a band with one of the synagogue members.

EK: What’s your favorite kind of candy?
SVF: M&M’s. Duh. What other kind of candy is there?

EK: Tons.
Orly Kahn, weighing in: Gummies. Chocolate.
SVF: I do like gummies, but I can’t resist M&Ms. Not pretzel M&M’s, though.

EK: Yeah, neither do I. I like peanut butter.
SVF: Peanut butter? I like peanut or plain. My favorite are Megas, but I think they stopped making them. I like chocolate mint. I like the coconut ones. Birthday cake is yucky.

EK: Do you think Chubbs would be a good mascot for NJJN?
SVF: Yes, he would be the perfect mascot. He’s better than Tom Brady and you can quote me on that.

Editor’s note: After this comment Shira Vickar-Fox was placed on double secret probation.

Lori Silberman Brauner, NJJN Deputy Managing Editor

EK: What’s your name?
LSB: Lori. Do you want my last name?

EK: No. Do you like the office?
LSB: Yes.

EK: Is my dad mean to you?
LSB: … not usually. He’s pretty cool.

EK: What’s your favorite story you’ve written?
LSB: Wow, I have to think about that. When I went to Portugal a year ago I wrote a story that I really loved.

EK: Do you think Chubbs will be a good mascot for your paper?
LSB: He already is.

EK: If you guys become really famous one day he should be like a mascot you can take pictures with.
LSB: … uh, that would be cool.

Lauri Sirois, NJJN Classified Sales Supervisor/Office Manager

EK: OK, so first question is, why do you think having candy is a good attraction?
LS: I think it’s very important to have.

EK: Do you like everybody at the office?
LS: I love working with everybody here. We have a very good team. And they all like chocolate, and chocolate is important.

EK: Totally! Do you think Chubbs will be a good mascot?
LS: Chubbs is a wonderful mascot because he loves all of us and he keeps us all very happy.

EK: Yuppo! [Judging by the recording the interviewer is sampling the candy] Do you like my dad? Is he mean to you a lot?
LS: Your dad is not mean to me. We get along really, really well, and we make fun of each other, but it’s only in fun.

EK: Why did you take the office with no windows?
LS: The other people in our old office didn’t have windows so I gave them the windows. But I have a nice big office with lots of room and I have lots of lights, and for me to see what the weather’s like I just go out there and look.

EK: That makes sense. Thank you.
LS: Well, thank you very much for the interview. It was a pleasure. And don’t forget to take some candy with you.

EK: Thank you.

At this point Evan neglected to turn off the recorder, which captured the following interaction (yes, it’s real):

Gabe Kahn: How was it?
EK: Good. I got some candy.

GK:
You’re not supposed to take anything when you interview someone.
EK: But she said we should.

GK: She’s just trying to influence you so you give her favorable coverage, trying to …
Orly Kahn: What is this?
GK: Milk Duds. If you interview someone and they offer you food you say no thank you … Oh my gosh, those are good.

The rest of the recording is inaudible.

Jed Weisberger, NJJN Staff Writer

EK: Is my dad cool about sports?
JW: Your dad’s cool about sports because his career is kind of like mine. He used to cover the Celtics. Your dad worked at a daily paper like I did, designed the paper like I did for a lot of years on the Trenton Times.

EK: Did you meet a few super-famous players at your old job?
JW: I did. I know Derek Jeter, I know …

EK, interrupting: Can you get him to come here so I can get his autograph?
JW: Well, that’s tough to do, because …

EK: It’s probably really expensive.
JW: Well, a lot of those guys do sign for free if you just see them, but as a writer if I go to a major league game, Evan, I’m not allowed to ask for autographs. It says right on your credentials no autographs allowed. It’s best for you to catch the player, I mean, I know a lot of Boston players as well …

EK, interrupting: Do you know Mookie Betts?
JW: I know Mookie Betts, but I was a Yankee fan when I was a kid like you are a Red Sox fan. When you go in professionally — and your dad will tell you with the Celtics — you have to take the emotions out of it. You have to discover the game and cover the people like they’re any other person. They’re famous, but you still have to talk to them like I’m talking to you.

Gabe Kahn, NJJN Editor

EK: So what’s your name?
GK: Gabe Kahn.

EK: Do you enjoy working here?
GK: I do absolutely. It’s a lot of fun.

GK, whispering after a 22-second pause: Can I see? Does that say, what’s the best … read it to me.
EK, whispers: I can’t read it.
GK, whispers: What’s the best part of your job? Is that what it says?

EK, speaking normally:
What’s the best part of your job?
GK: I really like writing my column, and I like the people in the New Jersey office and the New York office. I also like having everybody work together every week to make the newspaper, and then as soon as we’re done we start up another issue.

EK: Do you enjoy your staff?
GK: Yes, I do. They work very hard and they’re nice people and they have fun. And they boss me around.

EK: Do you think Chubbs will be a good mascot for NJJN?
GK: I’m actually afraid that Chubbs is going to take my job. If people look at the job he’s doing they might say, “You know what? Get Gabe out of there and let’s bring Chubbs in as the new editor.”

EK: What are you trying to say? What does this have to do with making him a mascot?
GK, flailing after being ridiculed by an 8-year-old: Well, he could be a mascot. But just because he’s a mascot doesn’t mean he can’t get a new position. He can keep on rising up. Some people do, you know …

EK: That’s it. All right. Thank you.

Contact Gabe Kahn via email: gkahn@njjewishnews.com, or Twitter: @sgabekahn.

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