Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Copy Desk Kidz Predict Future

"Jackson doctor gets two years."
No, he didn't.  Last time we checked, Charlotte Sun-Herald page designers had not been issued crystal balls. The judge presiding over Michael Jackson's manslaughter case gave the doctor four years in the clink.  So why would the desk kids send out a headline saying the doctor got "two years?"

Well, against all odds, the headline writer read the story.  Far down in the copy, the AP writer says -- without providing a source for the wisdom -- that prison crowding makes it "likely" the doctor will serve "less than two years."  Yes, the copy desk kidz actually read a story before writing the headline.  Unfortunately, they didn't read it accurately, carefully, critically or intelligently.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Alone for the Holidays? Paint the Bathroom -- or Plagiarize.

This morning's "Feeling Fit" tab in the Charlotte Sun-Herald features Barbara Pierce tucking bits and pieces of an Internet site,,  into a seasonal feature: "Alone for the holidays?  Meet the challenge."  If Pierce is on someone's gift-giving list, she needs a good book on ethics, attribution, and the fundamentals of research.

In a perverse way, however, Pierce's plagiarism is less terrifying than the advice she makes up.  The retired social worker advises lonely readers to  “think about the reasons you are alone.”

And, if contemplating the reasons one is alone on a major family holiday isn’t cheering, Pierce asks readers to answer the question, “if you are alone because you don’t have a partner, why don’t you have one?”

But to really feel good about being alone, Pierce advises cleaning out a closet and painting the bathroom.  And if that is still not cheerful enough, “cry,”  perform a “ritual of remembrance,” spend the day at a nursing home or animal shelter, and finish some old needlework. Oh, joy!

Plagiarism by Pierce isn't the only "Feeling Fit" item this week that has its roots in the Internet.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Too Much

The Journal of Lake Placid, best known for its in-depth coverage of holiday parades and middle-school sports, carries an unusual police-blotter story on the front page today. Three weeks ago, an 87-year-old woman apparently confessed to killing her 93-year old deaf and blind husband because she said she was tired of caring for him, the sheriff’s office reported.
            The sad story – one that clearly has a lot of local interest – told the basics two weeks ago.  The Nov. 2 story reported names, addresses, times and the fact that the wife was charged with murder.  The follow-up story that appears today rightly includes what officials say appears to have happened and why they think so.  But today’s news rides on the coattails of an autopsy report, prompting Journal reporter/editor Mat Delaney into share::
            Three knives were protruding from the man when first responders arrived. [... The victim was found]  in bed with three kitchen knives still sticking from his nude body.  [... The victim]  was found lying on his left side in the couple’s bed in the master bedroom with three large kitchen knives embedded past the hilt and protruding from his exposed right side. Secondary stab wounds were observed ... [in the victim’s ] neck as well as the right portion of his abdomen.  [The victim] suffered eight stab wounds, including three shallow wounds to his back. Five wounds were deep penetrating stabbing injuries that pierced organs and major arteries with a blade longer than nine inches. The report said a total of four knives were used in the killing. 
 This level of detail serves no purpose other than to horrify. It certainly derails the urgency to report that a story on the same front page ("Vercipia Biofuel Plant is Topic for Rotarians") is plagiarized from a company news release.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hole In Space

1. Retouching photographs is sinning in the temple of journalism. 
2. Submitting a retouched photograph tells the congregation you use your camera and Photoshop to lie.
3. Besides, Frank Kananaugh, you aren't even good at it. 
4. Which  Charlotte Sun editor was at lunch when this hole in space came up for review?