Wednesday, February 20, 2008

There are Five W's ...

...But DeSoto News Editor Jon Sica, a university journalism-school graduate, hasn’t mastered the concept. This morning, he publishes a story that fails to tell readers when or where an important utility-rate discussion was held. Since he quotes only a consultant and a couple of commissioners, Sica makes it sound like a closed-door meeting. He doesn’t mention a published agenda, public input, or hint that the meeting occurred at a scheduled or unscheduled time yesterday or last month at city hall or anywhere else within or without our county borders. Here’s the badly punctuated lead:
ARCADIA – The county’s hired consultant said it’s imperative DeSoto County commissioners raise the county’s water and wastewater utility service charges as soon as possible, and discontinue its current practice of keeping utility rates artificially low by draining the county’s general fund.

The story continues for 19 paragraphs, ending with a puzzling, awkwardly worded report that “as of 5 p.m.Tuesday there was no word yet on if there would be anything on next week’s commission agenda concerning utility rates.”

In fact, this was an open meeting with a published agenda. There's no hugger mugger, only careless writing by someone whose vocational education doesn’t seem to have stuck.

Why is Old Word Wolf so mean? Well, we've been through this before. It's who, what, when, where and why. Make a little sticky note for the "editor's" computer screen.

Which is it? Someone else who waded in over his head wrote a staff report describing the lunar eclipse that will be visible from our area tonight. He or she helpfully explains: “If only part of the moon passes through the umbra, there is a partial eclipse. If it passes through the umbra, there is a total eclipse.”

The Accidental Columnist. And finally, local columnist Luke Wilson uses his 20 inches to describe his weak directional sense, which I suppose has some bearing on the community although the specific relationship is left unstated. Unfortunately, no one edits Wilson’s work and today he publishes this nonsense: “I once saw a movie called “The Accidental Tourist” about a whole family like me, who couldn’t go anywhere without getting lost. I’m probably the only one in the world who thought it was intended to be a scary movie.”

A good editor might have saved Wilson the embarrassment of this pseudo reference...........

“The Accidental Tourist” is a 1988 domestic-crisis movie, adapted from an Anne Tyler novel. It’s a rather slow-moving, character-driven plot about Macon Leary, a travel writer who dislikes travel and pursues it only in the most fastidious fashion. When his son is killed in a shoot-out at a fast-food restaurant, Macon retreats even further from the messy real world. His wife gets fed up and moves out. Living alone, he breaks his leg and has to move in with his sister and brothers while he recuperates. But the dog he brings along has behavior problems, and so he hires Muriel, an unconventional dog trainer, played by Geena Davis. Muriel loosens up Macon a bit, but his absent wife becomes jealous. The rivalry forces our hero to make a difficult decision about his life.

The only person lost in “The Accidental Tourist” is Macon and then only in a metaphorical sense. The DeSoto Sun lost – its credibility. Again.

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