An Exposé of the Heikkinen Regime
From an outsider’s perspective, The Viking Voice looks like a typical student newspaper club. They have weekly meetings to discuss story ideas, deadlines and scheduling. Members appear to get along as they smile and share ideas. The club seems to be a fun outlet for creative and journalistic expression.
However, lurking just below the surface is a much darker reality. There’s the silent desperation of a staff ruled by an iron fist and trapped by addiction to over-the-counter breath mints. Most are too afraid to seek outside help or council.
Under the condition of anonymity, a few inside sources have agreed to help expose the alleged abuses of the paper’s editor-in-chief, Emma Heikkinen. “For the good of all staff members, it’s time to shine some light on the paper’s inner dysfunction,” one source said.
Our sources allege that in an attempt to control staff members, Heikkinen purposely gets them hooked on the powerful breath freshener, cinnamon flavored Altoids. “It starts innocently; Heikkinen offers you a free tin of them,” a source said. “She tells you that they help your breath and focus your mind. The trouble is, you don’t notice how addictive they are until it’s too late.”
Once addicted, staff members are at the mercy of Heikkinen as she strictly controls the distribution of the freshener. “You’ll do anything to get more of them,” our source said. “Altoids withdrawal is very painful. I’m telling you, ‘curiously strong’ is more than just a slogan.”
Hooked staff members are willing to submit to almost any treatment that Heikkinen inflicts. One source detailed an incident that occurred when an editor missed a grammatical error in a front page story. After berating the editor on the perils of dangling participles, the punishment was doled out. With an ultra-thick Sharpie, Heikkinen etched “participle dangler” across the editor’s forehead while the stunned staff watched in silence.
“And that’s nothing,” our source continued. “If you were to inadvertently split an infinitive, God help you.”
Certain spelling errors allegedly provoke particularly harsh rationing of Altoids. If a reporter misuses the words “affect” or “it’s,” Heikkinen cuts off their supply entirely. “Its like it effects her on a very deep level,” one source said.
“Then there is her obsession with the bloody Oxford comma,” an angry source said. “She absolutely refuses to accept that AP Style forbids the use of the comma.” If a reporter neglects to use an Oxford comma, Heikkinen allegedly retaliates by replacing each letter in the reporter’s online biography with a comma. “She can be very controlling, manipulative and demoralizing. Or is that controlling, manipulative, and demoralizing? I don’t even know any more,” the source said.
To confirm our sources allegations, former star reporter Ray Doss was asked for comment. Reached via Skype in his Hamline University dorm room, Doss contended that Heikkinen only used harsh practices to ensure that a high quality paper was produced and that deadlines were met. “You have to realize, it’s a tough job keeping the staff members in line,” Doss said. “Without a firm hand, they miss deadlines and yammer on about half-baked articles. The whole thing falls apart.”
“Ray is a Heikkinen apologist,” one source countered. “I can’t prove anything, but I suspect that he was complicit in some of the abuses. Ray and Emma worked pretty closely together.”
One of our sources said that they had been biding their time, waiting for Heikkinen to graduate this year, but with the addition of Heikkinen’s younger sister Maya to the staff, they fear that a new Heikkinen is being groomed to take Emma’s place. “We’ve seen them whispering and pointing at meetings. We think they have a plan.”
To thwart a family dictatorship, our insiders say they are quietly working with authorities to bring down the Heikkinens this year. “We can’t go into details at the risk of exposing the operation, but we are gathering evidence to prove the abuse. We are hopeful that once the details come to light, the staff will enter breath freshener rehab, and Emma will get the professional help that she needs.”