Meet the Pros: Destined for Weird News
David Moye, a staff writer for HuffPost Weird News, demonstrates his unusual fashion sense by modeling a tie made out of wood.
An interest in the strange
David Moye is a journalist with 25 years of experience, most of it spent writing weird news. A staff writer for HuffPost Weird News, Moye’s stories have been stolen, borrowed, aggregated, linked to or blatantly plagiarized by some of the top media outlets in the world.
Moye describes his long and twisted journey:
A talent for finding quirky feature ideas NL: How on earth did you get into the weird news, and how did you connect
with Huffington Post? DM: Part of it was ingrained. I was always into strange stuff growing up. I loved the Ripley’s Books, and I read Weekly World News and put some of their wacky stories to music. Looking back, it seems like destiny. I lived two blocks away from Ruth Norman, the creator
of Unarius Academy of Science. She was basically the 83-year-old leader of a UFO cult
who appeared on public access shows wearing gaudy tinfoil outfits preaching about the
space brothers. When you see a Cadillac with a spaceship on the top driving on your street, it affects you. I’ve always had an interest in the strange, but even in a normal newsroom setting I had a talent for finding quirky feature ideas. For instance, even a normal story like a spelling bee at a local school could be made weird just by asking questions in a funny way that elicited funny responses. I also worked as a professional phone psychic, which helped my interviewing abilities — but don’t ask me for lottery numbers. In 1995, when I was 30, I was hired to be the editor of Wireless Flash News Service, a news wire that specialized in weird news for seemingly every wacky morning DJ in America as well as all the major talk shows. I would interview people from all walks of life and write five 150-word rip-and-read stories a day. I worked there for 11.5 years. During that time, one of my subscribers was Buck Wolf, who did a weird news column for ABC News in New York. Flash forward to 2009. I had quit journalism for marketing but was unemployed.
So was he. On Valentine’s Day, we had a phone conversation where we dreamed about doing a full-time weird news website. By December, he had been hired by AOL to create such a website. I was one of the first hires even though I was working in PR. I worked freelance for a year until 2011 when AOL purchased Huffington Post. Most of the freelancers were cut, but the weird news section was hired and put on staff because HuffPost didn’t have a weird news section. Buck was a genius and suggested he also do a crime section as well. Both sections became popular pretty quickly, crime especially, but now the HuffPost Weird News section has become the gold standard in weird news.
A good editor gets the best out of each person NL: What is your editor like? How does he deal with the guy who provides weird news? DM: I don’t think you can edit weird news without being a little strange yourself. Buck participated in a world record for most people hammering a nail into their nose. He also has licked the world’s largest hairball. Any good editor knows how to get the best out of each person. Some people need feedback while others need guidance. Others do best if you wind them up and leave them alone. HuffPost is the first major news agency to have a full-time UFO reporter (Lee Speigel). I work with 10 other people who have their own interests and talents. The thing is, if you’re lucky enough to work on a fun beat, you’re liable to enjoy collaboration
and get along with your co-workers. Buck is very emotionally intelligent — the best I’ve ever worked with. NL: You have been a reporter, editor and journalist, among many other things. What are some of the most notable lessons you learned through your media experiences? DM: There are going to be peaks and there are going to be valleys. Appreciate them both. The peaks remind you what is great about your job, and the valleys make you better at that job. It is really important to create a setting where people get extra points for helping others. When a writer is enthusiastic about a project, trust them that it will be good. NL: What is the weirdest or most outrageous thing you have come across while covering weird news? DM: This always gets me in trouble for two reasons: A) I easily do 25 stories in a given week so I don’t always remember them. B) I’m really jaded (in a good way) so the stories that are the most outrageous to me are the most offensive to others. But here goes: The mother and daughter porn team out of Florida still shock me, mainly
because it was the daughter’s idea that they should make films together. They don’t actually touch, but still. After I interviewed the world’s fattest mother (she was 500 pounds when she gave birth), she decided to go on a diet. We offered to have her blog about the experience. One of her first blogs was about how she had heard that crack cocaine was a good weight loss method, but that it didn’t have much effect on her.
You did ask. NL: What constitutes weird news and why do you like writing it? DM: Weird news is, to me, news that raises the eyebrows or makes the mouth drop. It’s news you “want” to read rather than “have” to read.
All news is weird. The basic story that people use to define news, “Man bites dog,” is a classic weird news story. Under the category of “weird news,” I can write about politics, religion, sex, food, travel, entertainment, anything.
HuffPost Weird News writer David Moye has always had a knack for uncovering strange angles for his stories.