Sunday, November 11, 2007

250,000 Could Lose Drinking Water in Two Weeks And ...

...the DeSoto Sun's publisher promises readers a great big electronic newspaper, one that’s easy to read on the computer screen or a wall-mounted plasma television – in ten years or so.

...the publisher’s son promises readers more good news, now that as he has told all his editors to write weekly good-news only columns.

... the local reporter/editor was dispatched to cover the rubber-duck race, budgeted for a dozen inches plus color photo.

... anyone in DeSoto County who wanted to know the status of their drinking water supply – shrinking fast – had to read all about it in the Miami Herald this weekend.

The total local coverage for this important story is three sentences -- a shortened version -- from the Associated Press in the Sunday state briefs:

SARASOTA—Low levels in the Peace River due to drought conditions are threatening drinking water supplies for tens of thousands of people in southwest Florida. Officials said it’s likely water levels will drop too low to be tapped in a week or two, forcing suppliers to use groundwater sources that are also strained. The Peace River-Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority, which supplies more than 250,000 customers in Charlotte, Sarasota and DeSoto counties plans to drill an emergency well capable of producing 3 million to 4 million gallons of water a day.
Notice that Sun editors couldn't figure out how get a local place name into the headline.

This important story ran Saturday in the Charlotte-Herald with a local by-line. A reporter interviewed knowledgeable people who described what's going on, just like a real newspaper. The visual editors created an informative graphic, and the story reported factual details about flow levels with follow-on about the water managers' response to the problem.

Perhaps the strangest part of the DeSoto Sun's noncoverage (this is the paper that brags it's a Pulitzer Prize finalist) is The Naples News – part of the Dunn-Rankin chain and whose readers are not directly affected by the news, also ran the wire-version of the story on Saturday.

The story seems to have been released Friday by Peace River/Manasota Water Authority -- an age-old strategy for minimizing the impact of negative news. It worked. DeSoto reporters were very busy this weekend covering the rubber-duck race winner -- by telephone.

1 comment:

  1. Please continue to give these folks the lashing they deserve. Yeesh.