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Lead With "The Dog Lives"

"Lead with 'the dog lives'!" the publisher said.
"You sure about that, boss?" the writer asked.
"You don't think that's burying the lede? Maybe? Just a little?"
"Not at all. People love a happy human-interest story."
"Human interest?"
The publisher waved this comment away. "It's a turn of phrase. Don't be so literal minded."
"Okay, but--" the writer stuttered, groping for an argument--any argument--that would change his boss' mind.
"But nothing," the published continued undeterred. "This will be great--it's got all the elements. An innocent puppy! Terrible danger! Success against all odds! It's uplifting and inspiring. Everyone, absolutely everyone will love it!"
"But--" the writer said miserably.
"Look, we need a happy story to focus on right now," the publisher snapped. "Something that will unite everyone and make them forget their troubles. You don't make people feel bad, do you?"
"Then what's the problem?"
"It might be considered, um, insensitive to certain groups?"
"Pshaw. Who could be offended by the story of a sweet dog surviving great danger?"
"Don't let those snowflakes worry you. Now go write the story. I want it online by noon and that's that." The publisher stomped out of the room. The door slammed shut behind them.
"Okay," the writer sighed, defeated.
They opened their computer and stared at the screen. They had to make this story work. Failure would mean joblessness and joblessness meant being stranded in a foreign land, with no way home, hostile natives, and essentially no chance of getting another job. Nothing for it but to write the damn thing and hope for the best. They took a deep breath and began typing.
"Top news story of the day: The dog lives! The cute, fluffy, big-eyed pup was found on the outskirts of the rubble of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a medium sized city that was subject only to nuclear bombardment rather than antimatter beam attack, thus allowing the miraculous survival of the dog. Efforts to find and destroy any human survivors are ongoing. Glorious and complete victory expected soon. Stay tuned for further updates."
The writer sighed and hit upload. They could only hope that the publisher would be satisfied with this. The first assignment on a new mission was always the hardest for an embedded reporter in the Galactic Pacification Force.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, May 27th, 2021
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