Saturday, October 11, 2008

Charlotte Sun Editor Reaches New Low in Tasteless, Callow Reporting

Two months ago, three news services apparently carried unrelated reports of families living in squalid conditions and raising neglected children in Georgia and Missouri. Last night, an unnamed Charlotte Sun news editor decided this is the best way to deliver the information to southwest Florida:

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxNews of
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxthe Weird

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxThe Aristocrats!

In three instances reported in August, American kids were found living in such filthy squalor and isolation that authorities feared they were nearly as developmentally stunted as feral children raised in the wilderness. A 36-year-old man in Lavonia, Ga., was arrested for having imprisoned his wife and three never-schooled children inside their small trailer home for at least the last three years. And, in Burke County, Ga., a woman and 11 never-schooled children were found in a filthy trailer home without electricity or running water. And, in Polk County, Mo., six children were found among three families living in a clump of 12 isolated, junk-packed trailer homes with 360 animals and the only water coming from a series of connected garden hoses.
For readers unfamiliar with the Charlotte Sun’s reference to The Aristocrats!, Wikipedia helps:

“The Aristocrats” is a long-standing transgressive joke among comedians in which the setup and punch line are almost always the same. The joke involves a person pitching an act to a talent agent. The man describes the act. The teller of the joke is expected to ad-lib the most shocking act they can possibly imagine. This often involves elements of incest, group sex, graphic violence, defecation, coprophilia, necrophilia, bestiality, child sexual abuse and other taboo behaviors. The joke ends with the agent asking “And what do you call the act?” The punch line is then delivered: “The Aristocrats!”

Not quite so awful, but another editor is having a bad day, too:

"Joe Pendergrass got to know Sarah Palin when she was mayor of his hometown, Wasilla -- a town that, until a few months ago, nobody had heard of." The byline: by Dana Sanchez, Assistant Englewood Editor.

Nobody? Readers expect an editor -- even an assistant -- to know how to do a little research and then how to report accurately. It's a patent fallacy to report Wasilla is a town "nobody had heard of" until a few months ago. Whether the population is 5,469 (U.S. Census 2000) or 9,780 (U.S. Census estimate for 2007), that's a far cry from "nobody." I'll wager good money that several hundreds -- maybe even several thousands -- of folks in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau know Wasilla. And then there's everyone who voted the Wasilla mayor into the governor's residence: Nobodies.

Readers crave journalism, not an editor's -- assistant editor of a city desk covering a city nobody heard of, maybe? -- rather careless, self-centered opinionizing about a news story (since Sanchez hadn't heard of Wasilla, nobody had).


  1. There are plenty of good editors out here who need jobs. This one is obviously the publisher's son/daughter (no, not daughter: it reads like a teenage boy's puerile giggle) who is immune from firing.

  2. I don't remember the journalism class, on writing commentary headlines for hard news stories.I must have been out that day.

  3. That is just beyond embarrassing. It's too bad real newspapers are laying off real journalists while the Sun is still printing.