AB Thinks  →  6th September 2016

The laid-off journalist who scooped everyone

It started out as just another ordinary day for Jarrett Hill. Like millions of Americans, he was about to watch a keynote speech from a possible future First Lady. A few tweets later, he had unleashed a media frenzy.

In just 48 hours, this out-of-work journalist had appeared on the country’s major news networks, in its most respected newspapers and, one hopes, been offered several fabulous new job opportunities.

Hill was watching Melania Trump’s address to the Republican National Convention when he had a strange sense of dЬЉjЬЪ vu. “…The only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams…, ” Mrs Trump told her audience. To which Hill replied: “…and your willingness to work for them.”

As he later explained on CNN, something about the line struck him as familiar. He Googled it and shared his discovery on Twitter.

Later he tweeted a correction, which was retweeted 23,000 times and made headlines worldwide.

We can only speculate on whether Melania’s speech was out-and-out plagiarism or an unfortunate coincidence. That said, watching the delivery of both speeches is revealing. It won’t just be the professional communication advisers among us who can spot the difference between someone emotionally connected to their words and someone simply reading them.

This is yet another controversial turn in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, which US humourist David Litt describes as, “the gift that keeps on giving”.

While Jarrett was hitting the headlines, his mother, like many parents, managed to praise her son while keeping his feet firming on the ground.

Her response reminds us of the most fundamental and essential skills of all great journalists – the ability to listen (coupled, of course, with a such a deep love of words that some engrain themselves on our brains).

In a matter of days, Hill has earned himself a new global audience to inform and entertain. We look forward to what happens next.