Friday, March 28, 2008

Surprise, Surprise

The general idea is a headline should reflect the story beneath it. In a similar fashion, an opening paragraph should provide the sum and substance of the news.

Today's banner promises surprised Arcadians. The lead promises reports of a "conversation among residents" about a rumor that a proposed resort intends to cater to nudists.

So Old Word Wolf eagerly perused this morning's Big Story for evidence of Surprised, Conversing Arcadians. But all that three writers assigned to the story could come up with were folks of official stripe, none expressing surprise and all but one professing to have never heard of the plan.

The property appraiser is the first to say he doesn't know anything about the rumor; a former property owner is the second to say he doesn't know anything about the rumor. The county's official spokesman is the third to say he doesn't know anything about the rumor. A county comissioner is the fourth to say he doesn't know anything about the rumor, although he heard it from "a constituent." Another county commissioner vaguely remembers being "approached about a year ago by a person associated with a nudist resort," but "there was never any followup." The sixth and last official interviewed is Arcadia Mayor Sharon Goodman who comments that a nudist colony "is not something that our community needs." No one bothers to point out that the rumored resort is rumored to be not in the City of Arcadia.

So where are all the Surprised, Conversing Arcadians? Three Sun staff writers produced this story, the copy desk team read it and composed the headline -- and not one managed to note the absence of the Surprised, Conversing Arcadian.

(However, I'll bet some were surprised to find two churches mislocated to a cow pasture on the map Josh Olive drew to accompany the story.)

The headline over the jump is equally puzzling ...

Nude: Terra Sol naturist resort may be coming to Arcadia.

So far, we've read absolutely nothing that says zoning changes have been applied for, ground has been broken, or the unnamed landowners have even announced plans apart from a semi-functioning Web site offering a list of proposed amenities that don't exist. So, yes, the resort may be coming. It also may not. Bad desk. Also Bad Desk because no one who works there asks if any of the reporters called the landowners -- an obvious hole in this story about nothing. ==

Two cute kids wrote a news release about their event and it went straight up on the Charlotte Sun’s Web site with nary an alteration. More than the event, the item is the Sun’s daily announcement to readers that it doesn’t worry much about the quality of its product, and anything is good enough for publication. "...Please note these are just the companies donating stock, services or financial help. There are numerous volunteers who have opted to donate their time to make this event function, to who gratitude also is extended."


  1. It's too bad these three reporters spent a day asking people about a "rumor" no one had heard (until they read it in the paper) instead of reporting some actual news from Arcadia or DeSoto County.

  2. And, the story demonstrates all the problems of treating rumors as news items. Followup has included another story and a cartoon. There more fun in town making bad puns of words and phrases like like "coverage," and "bare facts" than in locating the genuine problems in our schools and government. There never has been such followup on those topics. One agenda-report and the day is done.