Saturday, April 26, 2008

Quoting Sources We Didn't Speak To

The Sun-Herald's own Lang Capasso, a "general manager," (not a reporter trained in the ethics of journalism) wrote last Thursday that a neighborhood pizza parlor "now serves beer and wine to wash down the pizza. Owner Yvonne Haulunen tells me that it was something they have been trying to get for along time."

Today's correction: The eatery "is not serving beer or wine" and Capasso did not speak to Haulunen for his column.

This little experiment -- of firing real reporters and ordering area circulation and sales managers with no journalism training (any college writing experience?) to write weekly business columns -- has been fraught with danger. The gang of five consistently produces silly, error riddled (let's not forget plagiarized) and vacuous lists of address changes, boosterism, and service announcements that violate the ethical separation of reporting and editorializing.

There's an important place on our local business pages for tid-bit news and short announcements. But, just because it's a one-liner doesn't mean it's easy to produce or exempt from journalism's standards. A sales manager cannot be counted on to know these standards. When a publisher assigns even short roundups to the untrained, he has saved salary by trivilizing his paper, his sources, his readers and his profession.

And one more thing:

In the same column, the writer leads off by announcing a local spa's new service "called the Raindrop Technique. It was developed to simulate water falling. This cleanses the body and is a 45-minute session."

Old Word Wolf calls this a long shower!


  1. It's unlikely that a copy editor would catch that the writer didn't actually interview a source to produce the information. Funny how few -- citizen writers -- actually get this part. My paper's been caught red handed here, too.

  2. When are the Dunn-Rankins going to wake up and realize they've turned a decent community newspaper into a ethically questionable rag? The Sun, Sun-Herald, America's crappiest Dunn-Rankin product, whatever they want to call it this year, has lost all ethical standards with the Sun's Son in charge. David, stop buying papers and sell this one so it can be a real newspaper again.

  3. Does anyone at the Sun have ethics? They routinely pull photos and graphics off the Net regardless of copyright. They do the same with copy. They write stories just because an advertising person promised a story to someone and no one in editorial has the guts to say no. The Sun should be shut down. Then maybe a real newspaper could cover the area.

  4. Am I naive in thinking that readers will pretty soon catch on, and that they'll stop buying the paper unless their kid is mentioned on the sports pages? And even then, maybe they'll stop if the news story's wrong.

  5. What a joke. That's why I get the Herald Tribune. They don't have as much local news but at least they get the facts right.