Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Beware What You Wish For

The Sun-Herald’s DeSoto County subscribers are in for a treat, characterized as “icing on the cake,” says Joe Gallimore, the local newspaper office’s general manager. (He’s the guy with the office thermostat key who, on the side, promotes boxing matches featuring young boys.) Gallimore dedicates his Friday column to the news that cow country folks will be getting a weekly Arcadian. The GM punctuates an amazingly strange column with numerous assurances that extensive surveys, polls, and a vast number of sidewalk requests show him that readers want the old Arcadian back.

Well, apparently, they’re going to get it.

What Gallimore glosses over is that the paper's six-day-a-week local section disappears. Well, actually, he does say this, but in an oblique way that requires dedicated reading to figure out, as well as the stamina to wade through 30 inches of meandering hype that borders on the bizarre.

Here’s the brief tour:

Lede : (posed as a question): "How do you react to seeing your favorite baseball team in back in the bottom of the ninth ....?" That graf goes on for three long, clause-laden sentences directed at “you,” which in this case would be me, and frankly, Joe, I don’t give a damn.

Second graf: Readers learn that the above produces the “ultimate high.”

Third graf: GM Joe adopts the intimate, personal voice: “I want to inform you about a change ....” False alarm. Readers will not be informed, yet. First, they have to read that his fantastic bosses “are going to continue our commitment ... but this is only a start!”

Next graf: The nice newspaper folks plan to “communicate back to the reader with the ability of reaching more and providing more of what this community has said it wants.” Readers are probably willing to overlook the dubious grammar that fails to say what GM Joe thinks he’s saying because linguistically challenged in one’s native tongue has never been a bar to writing for Sun-Herald newspapers. That tradition continues unchanged.

Next graf: “Everyone knows how hard the economy has been ....” Right, Joe.
Next graf: OWW paraphrase: Opening and running a business is hard work. This is true, Joe.
Next graf: “The Sun Newspaper Group did just that 25 years ago....” Got it, Joe.
Next graf: “...this family owned, community oriented paper has lasted!” That’s Joe’s exclamation mark there.

Next graf: “...our company will indeed make seven-day-a-week delivery service happen ... we will introduce both a DAILY and a WEEKLY news product.” Love the caps and the “news product” thing.

Next graf: GM Joe promises a new news product to deliver “news of extreme importance (breaking news) pertaining to DeSoto including obituaries.” Readers can be forgiven for emitting a giggle at this point, so long as they don’t become distracted from the task of finding out exactly what the news might be.

At this point, 22 inches into the thing, GM Joe’s opus jumps to page 10: DeSoto subscribers will get the Charlotte Sun plopped into their driveways. On Thursdays, they’ll get that icing on the cake, a local insert. Not only is that the icing, it’s “the combined punch,” he writes.

GM Joe uses another 10 inches or so to praise bosses who are like family, expound on photos readers can look forward to (there is no staff photographer covering DeSoto), and to promise that the town will be blanketed with fliers heralding the Oct. 1 event.

Actually, the fliers are probably unnecessary. The column ran last Friday. On Saturday, editor Susan Hoffman made a similar, if more literate, announcement. And then on Sunday, she undertook a follow-up that took up nearly half of the front of the local news section.

When Monday and Tuesday rolled around with no further developments in the three-day story, Old Word Wolf knew “the ultimate high” was headed into a downer.

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