Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Barbershop Beat

School's out and summer interns are fanning out across the land, eager apply theory to practice, guided by seasoned mentors. Sun Coast Media Group snared one and immediately assigned the journalism hopeful to -- the barbershop beat.

Could the Sun's associate deputy senior managing executive editor in charge of interns, the grizzled old bear who loves waxing nostalgic about his notebook days of pounding the pavement, chasing ambulances, interviewing hard-bitten cops and digging for malfeasance at city hall in gritty little towns where he learned the craft, have dreamed up a less useful assignment for the tyro?

In 490 words, the intern reports that Frankie gives a great haircut. He confirms that the barber "gives his customers complete satisfaction," and "feels gratification" when "he has done his absolute best." The reporter says the barber is determined "to run a successful business," learned from his father, and now regards "hairdressing as more than a career." The shop owner treats customers "like family" and his "efforts are motivated by providing for his family." If a reader gets to the end of 20 inches feeling the need "for more information," the story wraps with address, phone number and price list.

The nice intern is learning a few things probably not mentioned in J-school: Sun Coast Media Group has no truck with such things as a wall between editorial and advertising. And, no bit of boosterism is so blatant it could embarrass a Dunn-Rankin. And, sadly, two cliches per inch aren't enough to wake up the copy desk. And most sadly, not one of this nice intern's mentors took time to read his stuff with an eye to nudging him away from the embarrassment of debuting with an unintentional bar-joke parody ("Have you ever walked out of barber shop ...") and asking a silly question ("...feeling like your hair has been treated with the skill and delicacy of an artist painting on canvas?")*

OWW's advice for the cub: Run, kid! Run as fast as you can!

And speaking of in-house ads and copy desks ... :

One makes a unique offer. The other calls a 13- and 16-year-old brother and sister twins.


No comments:

Post a Comment