The top brief on DeSoto Sun's national news page this morning describes a steer with a brown spot on its hide. The spot is shaped like Michigan. The news behind the news is a real editor must have had the day off and left the kids in charge, again. Even if the brown spot on the beast's hide were the shape of the face of Jesus, it wouldn't be news. See "Cats Aren't News," below
Closer to home, John Lawhorne had an easy day yesterday. Someone e-mailed him a city council agenda. He spliced in a few verbs and word-processed it into a front-page banner over his by-line.
The big news is a request a disabled-children's group plans to make for a place to build an "inclusive playground" that would accommodate wheelchairs and such.
This seems like a wonderful idea. Any reporter with a nose for community news would stop rewriting the city clerk's memo for two minutes, just long enough to find out any or all of the following (every one of which could be discovered over the telephone, so the nice newsman wouldn't even have to leave the office):
--Who or what is Hand of Angels and how long has it been in "business?" Is it a local group or regional? Have members done similar projects or is this the first?
--How many children does the organization plan to serve with the facility?
--What does a special-needs playground cost? How are funds to be raised? Are grants or major donors involved?
--What kind of space and how much area does the group want the city to donate?
--How much construction is involved? Parking? Bathrooms? Pathways?
--What are the features of a special-needs playground? Is there an equipment manufacturer the group has in mind, perhaps one with a Web page and a picture so the nice newsman doesn't have to leave the newsroom to locate art?
-- Does the group provide maintenance and insurance for the facility?
--Several special-needs playgrounds in nearby areas have been in the news (no, not the Sun) ; how are these projects coming?
-- Could this project be carried out at the largely unused city park on the south side of town, which already has parking, bathrooms and other infrastructure?
Being a reporter is fun and a great way to earn pin money. And, it doesn't cost any more to write a good story than a bad one. Instead of just slapping your name on work already largely performed by the lovely city clerk, readers would appreciate reporters who know how to pick up the telephone, make a few calls and dig a little. Readers will be better served and the newspaper staff won't look quite so lazy.
Why does Old Word Wolf sound so mean today? Well, for one thing, she's been discussing how to use the telephone to ask people Five-W Questions for about four years now. It doesn't cost a penny more in mileage, benefits, salary or utilities to write something worthwhile.