Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Information-Free News!

This article is a little noodle-scratcher.

It’s supposed to be a news story. But it appears to be devoid of actual news.

Let me tell you’ I’ve been there. Spent ten years as a journalist covering small-town news. Spent a lot – and I mean a LOT – of time listening to city council deliberations, which should be filed under cruel and unusual punishment. And I’m sure if I went through the tons of articles I shoveled out, I could probably find a few nearly as information-free as this one. So I’m the pot calling the kettle black.

Still, damn.

So. The council wants to change the enforcement part of its nuisance ordinance. What those changes might be, well, that’s left to the imagination.

I get that there’s no draft. I get that there’s not even a deadline set to have a draft of what might be changed.

But news articles are meant to inform, not be vignettes of moments in time at a city council meeting. I want that, I’ll do this:

And I understand the journalist’s pain.

City Council don’t wanna say anything because the journalist is going to write it down and print it, and we all know what happens then:

"In my experience Miss Crisplock tends to write down exactly what one says," Vetinari observed. "It's a terrible thing when journalists do that. It spoils the fun. One feels instinctively that it's cheating somehow."

Same for the city employee. One word gets out to the public and KABOOM. What’s said becomes the OFFICIAL PUBLIC WORD ® and NOBODY – REPEAT NOBODY – will believe anything otherwise, even if angels descend from the clouds with a new version of the nuisance ordinance. So since there’s nothing of substance to write about, clearly this should be a news brief.

But . . .

The journalist writes an information-free article with a chiche in the headline. And dammit if he’s not going to get a byline. He sat in that city council meeting for HOURS. 

And an editor saw it, and it was good.

And the world goes on spinning because there’s another newspaper to FILL FILL FILL.

Again, can’t say I miss the newspaper business at all.

NOTE: I’m not saying every journalist out there does this. Frequently. But every journalist out there has done an article or two like this. And if they tell you otherwise . . .

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