Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Doing Too Much With Too Little

The DeSoto Sun's front page designers couldn't decide exactly what the story says (there's actually a good reason for that -- see next graf), so they opted to play it both ways:

Illegal immigration is down
Refugees keep on coming.

We can hear it now: "They'll figure it out once they read the story."

Uhm, no. We can't figure it out once we read the story. The opus opens with lots of stuff about illegal immigrants -- the news hook is 17 Cubans came ashore last month, beaching on an island at the fringes of the newspaper's circulation area. The problem is, Cubans aren't illegal immigrants. And the headline about "refugees" seems to be taken from the table, lifted from a Web-aggregator's data showing the top five countries that have been sending refugees -- all perfectly legal arrivals -- in the last decade.

To add to the confusion, the refer trailing the story announces "Lee County opts not to participate in 287 (g) program" Readers expecting to solve the mystery of what exactly a 287 (g) is turn eagerly to page 4.

No where in the inside story is a 287 (g) program defined or explained. The cops complain about it, calling it unflattering names. Administrators complain about it, saying it doesn't work. Officials, some 20 inches into the story, call it a "seminal problem," whatever that is. But no where, no where, no where can the reader learn what the heck a 287 (g) is.

Nice work, guys. Maybe if writers asked someone to actually read their stories before they landed on the front page, Sun readers wouldn't be quite so busy wondering if their $200 subscriptions are worth renewing.

And, a lot of papers have piled up since OWW was away....

Just skimming the top of the stack: back on November 30, Susan Hoffman went to the dog show and got the name of every champion, owner and city. But Samantha Williamson, sent to cover actual children, couldn't muster more than a "This little girl..." and "This little boy..." for the"Catch and Release Fun at Lake Katherine" cutlines. The dogs have names -- they're champions. The kids, well, never mind.

1 comment:

  1. They don't check, they don't care and copy editors are sick of it. It would be easier to write the story then copy editor this crap.