Thursday, May 20, 2010

Arcadian Journalism: How to Say Nothing in 600 Words

Today’s editorial is small town journalism at its worst: important and powerful names are scrubbed from the record, facts are vague, unsourced, and undated. The issue is never clearly stated. The outcome is never explained. The various sides of the debate are not aired. No one is interviewed.

“Athletes learn wrong lesson from parents” allocates almost 600 words in six hefty paragraphs in paen to the virtues of sports for kids. The brave writer tells Arcadians that sports are an “important, positive influence” in child development. The brave writer goes out on a limb to opine that young athletes learn cooperation, playing by the rules, and acceptance of authority.

The brave writer broaches the notion that sports require “practice and determination.” She endorses good parents who “enroll” and then “transport” children to an activity that will make their offspring “better off.”

Whew! Are we there yet? Readers who have slogged more than halfway through the “editorial” (we are so very very grateful that the U.S. Consititution protects free speech so we can mull this amazing communication), wondering what any of this bland vanilla, clichéd, trite, homogenized, platitudinous verbiage has to do with the headline.

Oh, here it comes! Fifth graf:

“In recent times [that’s the “when” part of Arcadian journalism], it appears some parents and parent coaches have lost sight of what the real purpose and goal is for participating in sports. [So many purposes have been regurgitated that we lost track of the “real” one.]. There is a report of three parent coaches of a winning team [named?] trying to change league [which league?] rules to allow them to coach their league all-star team, instead of allowing the other head coaches in the league to participate. [Who made this report? Which league is under discussion here? Where and when did the attempt to change league rules occur? What's with "allow?" Isn't a rule a requirement?]

When the coaches [which “the coaches”?] were unsuccessful in changing the rules [rule or rules?] , they walked off of the field, [which field?] in full view of the other children, [the coaches are “other children?”] with the head coach taking his own child with him. [And that head coach is named?] In other words, if the coach couldn’t have his way, then he wasn’t going to participate at all or even allow his child to participate. Are these the guiding principals [principles] we are trying to instill in our children through sports? Certainly not. [Is this the standard of journalism we are want to instill in our editorial writers? Certainly not.]

Shame on those parents and coaches who display conduct they would never condone from their own children or players.[Shame on editorial writers who fail to adhere to the basics of journalism, like explaining who, what, when, where and why.] This type of behavior [journalism] is unacceptable and should not be tolerated by ether [either] those parents who participate for the right reasons or the league that organizes these sporting opportunities for children. [How can we be warned about this terrible danger when readers don’t know any of the most basic facts.] We cannot let a few bad apples spoil the sports barrel for the rest of us. [Another charming cliché – but what the heck is a sports barrel?]

Excuse me; I have to go find some fish to wrap.

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