Friday, December 28, 2007

Top Ten Stories Ignore Real Follow-up

Old World Wolf is reading and writing remotely, so she’ll follow up with more detail a bit later. Meanwhile, she sees DeSoto Sun pages clogged with easy reruns of the year’s top ten stories (a designation open to debate). If there are any real journalists looking for stuff to do in this little window of time between the year-end holidays, the newspaper’s publishers might want to suggest more mundane follow ups -- you know, the sort that require paid reporters to push back from the desk and find the front door, visit offices, cultivate knowledgeable sources, ask questions, and generally take a second look around town for more than chamber of commerce stories.

Follow-up possibilities abound. Arcadia readers still don’t know what happened to the eight high-powered rifles taken by an unreported number of burglars from a pawn shop earlier this month. They still don’t know if the school district’s littlest plagiarist completed her fund-raising goal and caught the bus for a private tour operator’s so-called student leadership conference. They don’t know if the unanimous vote back in October by the county commissioners directing their administrator to “look into” recycling (instead of dumping sorted materials to the landfill) has resulted in a single hour of effort. Readers still don’t know when the same commissioners will be able to receive e-mail from AOL, MSN, and Comcast subscribers – all of whom, along with scores of others, are permanently blocked as spam generators. Arcadians still don’t know whether the flurry of grants applications announced by the school district have been rejected, accepted or what. They still don’t know what the school’s graduation rate and dropout rate figures are doing or the impact of enrollment on state funds headed to town. And DeSoto Sun subscribers are still reading nearly daily letters to the editor about a controversial red-light-scoflaw entrapment brouhaha that started with a news story and grew into an editorial – neither of which was shared with DeSoto readers or is available in the Internet archives to local subscribers, despite all the reader interest. Even a personal request to the editor to shoot OWW a copy of the articles as a professional favor has been ignored.

We’ll follow up. We promise. The categories will be:

Toothless, barkless watchdogs
Journalists that aren't
Reporters that don't
Editors who can't spell because the pay is low

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