With two weeks left, the writers are given their final assignment to write a news article for the magazine's National Affairs section. Their work on this task could make the difference for who will chosen to fill the role of contributing editor...... Read Full Episode Summary »
With two weeks left, the writers are given their final assignment to write a news article for the magazine's National Affairs section. Their work on this task could make the difference for who will chosen to fill the role of contributing editor and earn the right to say, I'm From Rolling Stone.
National Affairs editor Eric Bates tells the writers that Rolling Stone does a lot of in-depth political coverage. So for the next issue, they'll go into the field and report on the companies they think are America's worst polluters. Big companies have public relations departments to thwart this type of attention, so Eric says they'll need to research what these companies put in the air and dump in the water. Their task is to put a human face on it.
Colin, Russell, Tika and Krishtine are excited to tackle this type of assignment, and make calls to set up meetings and interviews immediately. After coming up short on prior assignments, Tika feels that she has to work harder than everybody else.
One writer is not excited. Krystal tells her peers, "This is a waste of my time." She's more excited after seeing a Victoria's Secret Pajama Party invite.
On the phone, Krishtine interviews Tyson Foods spokesperson, Gary Michaelson. She pushes him to find out what Tyson Foods is doing to minimize pollution and how the company is affecting the quality of life of the people living near their chicken farms. She asks where the waste goes. Gary says he'll try to get some information to her.
Peter calls Koch Industries about its environmental damage in Corpus Christi, Texas, but a spokesperson denies Peter an interview.
Krystal heads to Eric's office where she tells him that the story doesn't interest her. Eric offers her guidance, but she just doesn't want to do the story, so he assigns it to someone else. "You won't hurt my feelings," Krystal says callously as she exits his office.
Russell talks to Joe Levy about traveling to Kentucky, but he's told there are consequences for his past behavior, so he has to do his story from New York. Although Russell's bummed, his greatest supporter at the magazine, contributing editor Jenny Eliscu, feels that the punishment is justified. He's been rude, unprofessional, offensive and maniacal. "It's your choice, what this opportunity is for you," she says.
Arriving at the Victoria's Secret Pajama Party, Krystal gets introduced on the red carpet as "Krystal Jagger." Loving the attention, she poses for the paparazzi and tells a reporter that she's wearing Victoria's Secret. Afterward, she's whisked off to the VIP tent. "My life is so much better now," she says. "I love it!"
The next day, Krystal tells Joe that she walked the red carpet, saying with a smug grin, "They loved me." When she tells Joe that she talked to several reporters, he says they'll find another red carpet event and put her on the other side -? the reporter's side. "That's not as fun though," she says. Taken aback, Joe retorts, "And yet it's what we're here to do."
Krishtine makes a call to United Poultry Concerns representative, Karen Davis. Krishtine asks what companies like Tyson Foods needs to do to minimize the negative effects on the quality of life of people who live near chicken farms. With Karen on speakerphone, everyone hears her speaking about how companies make chickens unnaturally large and the writers start to eye Peter, who's enjoying a big plate of ... chicken. They share a few bites and giggle as Karen continues talking, oblivious to the writers' jokes. After hanging up with Karen, Krishtine asks, "Popeye's [Chicken] anybody?"
Peter is not amused by the joking that occurred while Karen was talking. He feels that Krishtine should have conducted her interview professionally, and that Karen's opinion on the chicken industry is important enough to be respected.
Krishtine travels to Owensboro, Kentucky, to research her Tyson Foods article and meet with environmental activist, Aloma Dew, who she describes to a friend as "the crazy chicken lady." Driving a car with a bumper sticker that reads, "Jesus is a Liberal," Aloma takes Krishtine on a tour and tells her about the influx of houses that will hold as many as 30,000 chickens into the area.
Aloma takes Krishtine to interview Bernadine Edwards, a local homeowner. "They've ruined my life," says Bernadine, whose husband died of emphysema. "When they start harming the community and the people in it, then that's time to start fightin'," Bernadine says, talking about the contaminated dust and feathers that constantly swirl around her home. When Krishtine and Aloma drive past a chicken house and gets a whiff of a horrible odor, Krishtine realizes that it's not at all a laughing matter.
Colin, meanwhile, travels to Cordova, Alaska, to research his article on the Exxon Vadez Oil Spill. Colin meets with the Prince William Sound Science Center's scientist, author, and environmental activist, Dr. Riki Ott, who shows him the map and the history of the oil spill. Dr. Ott notes that when you step on the beaches, they look clean, but she encourages him to dig six inches down into the sand.
Colin takes a small plane to a remote location and digs. At a shallow level, he sees and smells the oil. Finding enough to fill a jar, Colin says it's unnerving. Cordova resident Malani O'Toole later complains to Colin that the clean up was as damaging as the spill. "[They sprayed] boiling hot water on the beaches that killed everything that the oil didn't," she says, adding that Exxon used harmful, unapproved methods and "they didn't clean up!" Thinking that this story could impact the world, Colin fears that his lack of journalism experience will leave it inadequately covered.
Back in New York, Russell hands in his story about coal mining in Kentucky and again he has drpoped the ball. Instead of looking into black lung and the dangers of coal mining as a profession, Russell covered one company's track record as a polluter.
Researching his article on Koch Industries, Peter meets with local residents in Corpus Christi, Texas. Rev. Harold T. Branch tells Peter that, "So many people have died of cancer in this neighborhood." Billie Munguia continues, revealing that everyone across the street has died! Their houses are wrapped up because they're contaminated. And the neighbors worry because they're left uninformed.
Peter visits the contaminated house of a woman who lady died earlier that year. When he asks the workers whether the ground or the roof are contaminated, they refuse to speak and direct him to their supervisor. Peter says the experience has really made an impact on him.
Tika travels to El Paso, Texas, to research her article on nonferrous metals producer ASARCO. She meets with an ASARCO representative to get the company's side of the story regarding clean-up of a smelting incident, the handling which he says is above-board.
Later, Tika crosses the border into Mexico to interview local activists. University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) environmental studies representative, Mariana Chew, Ph.D. takes Tika to see toxic soil. Tika's taken aback that she's standing on toxic soil where there's more than 100 years of polluting. Mariana tells Tika that UTEP conducted a study to prove their argument, but that ASARCO hasn't admitted to any wrongdoing. Shockingly, children swim in the contaminated river. Tika laughs, "This is like a park," Mariana agrees, "Like an amusement park."
Next, Tika takes a tour of downtown Juarez, Mexico. Due to heavy rains the night before, the sewage system overflowed and the streets look like rivers. The roads are unpaved and there are stray dogs everywhere. It's hard to breathe, and there's a yellow haze. Looking at the mess Tika says, "Not even the devil himself would live here."
Instead of working on a National Affairs story, Krystal attends Paris Hilton's record release party. Krystal tells Paris' mother, Kathy Hilton, that the Hilton family is like iconic royalty to her. After asking Paris a couple of brief questions about her album, Krystal asks to take a photo with her and oozes about Paris' reality show, The Simple Life like a fan. Loving the moment, Krystal wonders what she's going to do when this summer Rolling Stone opportunity comes to an end.
Meanwhile, the other writers wrap up their assignments, leaving with new insight on serious issues and determination to get the Rolling Stone job.
Colin, Tika, Krish and Peter return to New York and finish writing and to file their articles. The next morning Joe Levy and Eric Bates review the stories. Eric tells Joe that Krystal didn't even do the assignment, and that Russell did the wrong assignment. Colin and Tika turned in too much work without direction. But both Krishtine and Peter rose to the occasion and showed that the issues mattered to them.
Joe meets with the writers about their final assignment and last chance to impress Rolling Stone. Tika thinks it's between she and Colin. She says she'll be shocked if anyone else gets it. Russell feels he's the best writer. Krishtine thought that Tika would win because of her work ethic, but she believes that she has great ideas, so she should be picked. Peter hopes they choose a person based on potential. Colin is overwhelmed by the possibility of having a job there. Krystal doesn't feel it's her time to be there, but she wouldn't trade the experience.
Colin, Tika, Krish and Peter's National Affairs stories were published on rollingstone.com. Russell's story was never published. Krystal never wrote about her experiences on the red carpet.