Saturday, December 12, 2009

Breaking News.......Literally

Funny how cubicle based information gathering for a story, coupled with just writing down the first words that come to mind and then publishing it as news without at least one other set of eyes looking at it, can be so telling and at the same time, not say much at all. I'd like to be able to say that hey, it's just an online story that will be corrected when they proof it, but all too often, that isn't the case, and these little filler stories make it into the print edition, verbatim, without the scrutiny of a second glance by one of forty editors.

The story in question, was posted last night. I do have to confess, that I am prone to be on the critical side of the reporting and writing at this particular publication, and on occasion, I will actually rewrite stories just to see how it looks my way.....maybe I am spoiled by being in a large market where print news has a more refined and dare I say, edited look. goes:

"A Chevy Camaro rear-ended a Ford truck on Moody and Water streets on Friday night. The wreck sent two people to a local hospital.

The driver of the Camaro failed to slow as he near a crossing and thus rear-ended the truck, which was stopped at a stoplight, according to preliminary reports offered by Officer Robert Dial".

First, it appears that the accident happened on two separate streets, rather than on a street near an intersection with another. Then there is the poor grammar and Shakespearish summary of what actually happened:

"The driver of the Camaro failed to slow as he near a crossing and thus rear-ended the truck, which was stopped at a stoplight"........
Thus rear ended the truck? (Hey, it could have been thus smacked into the truck).

If you are going to write it like that, you should at the very least continue in character with the next line......something like "Quoth the policeman". "Nevermore".

While I suppose I should be ashamed of myself, picking on a young reporter, navigating their way through a weekend night, in a rudderless ship, I think someone needs to point needed corrections out to them, ( editor) rather allow them to post such writing and have it make it to print. I see it as a reflection on both the writer and the "buck stops here" editor, to allow such mangled words into print.
Said editor has gone out of his way to show his online readers and those who would question him, that HE has the last word. You'd think that that same anal retentive quality would spill over into his paying day job too, and be reflected in the quality of the product that hits the streets.......wouldn't you?

I think that if anyone is dropping the ball here, it is the editor, allowing that kind of rube writing to make it into print, while at the same time doing a disservice to the young reporters by not correcting their work and teaching them the trade of writing. It appears, as I had been told a while back, that the editing is essentially if it fits print it. That stories are edited more for length than content...........