Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dog Loose in a Parallel Universe

Compiling police-beat shorts must be viewed a punishment by DeSoto Sun's world-weary staff. It took Old Word Wolf years of goading to prod the grizzled John Lawhorne and his editor (a j-school product!) into including the third "W" (when) in police beat items. Until then, his typical entry read "Cows reported loose on Hanson."

Sure, it takes a bit more care to sort out when something occured. But then, that's what reporters do, no?

Alas, that little detail marking history's first draft has recently been folded into a subhed -- yielding this morning's gem:

Neighborhood Watch: These incidents were reported Saturday and Sunday.

Which means, of course, the car break-in happened Saturday and Sunday; the dog ran loose Saturday and Sunday, and the caller reporting a laser beam aimed at her house dialed 911 Saturday and Sunday. And all those arrests for probation violations and failure to pay child support and sale of controlled subtances happened on Saturday AND Sunday. What a busy little town we have.

Meanwhile, the Charlotte Sun today dedicates page 5 in all editions to its own used-car-lot-like promo, complete with a dialog balloon emerging from the ME's left ear. The barely disguised purpose is to dance on the grave of the New York Times's local.

The strangest part is the "let us know.." graf calling for our favorite cartoon! Cartoon! Chris, this is a newspaper that you are managing, not a comics sheet -- except that part called Letters to the Editor, but that's another posting.

In sort, if you don't know by now, Chris, give me a jingle and we'll talk.

Well, OK, Old Word Wolf will play along.
What I'd like to see in my paper is:
1. Actual copy editing; stories are read and edited with grace and intelligence.
2. Actual assignments that reflect a watchdog -- not a lapdog -- approach to local officials, issues, and events.
3. Actual reporting in some depth with intelligence, covering schools, government, and all the other little "quasi governmental" places where tax dollars are funneled.
4. Less Dr. Donohue in news hole and more coverage of significant events elsewhere on the planet; less reader-provided plagiarism, and the elimination of all Kid-Lit submissions. You can also make room for real news by eschewing the minutes of meetings for clubs that 14 women belong to and which record table decorations and luncheon menus, leading with the phrase "at the lovely home of our hostess ... "

That's something I'd like to see in "MY" newspaper.


  1. I agree with your "wish list" but that's what it is...a "wish list." SCMG is not going to change under the current management structure. That's a shame, too. This could be a dynamo of a product. Heck, all of their papers could be dynamos with better guidance.

  2. The cartoon bubble is just another example of how amateurish the Sun is -- that with the face looks like something straight out of a high school paper. However, asking readers what they want in the paper makes perfect sense to me since it's readers who end up writing most of the copy and taking most of the photos. And they can always edit at home.

  3. Chris Porter is listed on the SCMG "contact us" site as "Editor." SCMG doesn't even know how to title newspaper personnel. Porter is either the managing editor or news editor of the Charlotte Sun.

    Anyway, for an editor to allow their image to be placed in a promo ad looking like a side show spieler or used car salesman, is embarrassing.

    In the real world of journalism, an editor would resign before allowing this to happen.

    From Charlotte to Hardee to Venice are there only gutless, spineless editors? What does the serious community view them as, fools and desperate men and woman saying yes master to everything?

    Maybe good for Porter to be practicing for one of his new career moves after maybe soon the HT announces that, "after failing to find a buyer for their newspapers, Sun Coast Media Group today announced they would cease publication of all their newspapers on..."

    Is Porter's staff is probably laughing out loud at him? Why wouldn't they?