The Empire that couldn't.....(repost)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 at 04:00 PM

Thanks to an idiot spammer leaving heavy code as multiple comments to this, which tied up my machine evry time I tried to view them to delete them, I'm reposting this entry with the one legitimate comment appended, and deleting the original post.

Originally posted Sat Mar 04, 2006:

Have you noticed the incredible deterioration of basic journalism skills?  The Who, What, When, Where, & Why school of giving readers the information they need to know whether they want to read the story?

I read a NY Times story the other day--scanned is more like it--and reached the end without seeing any info that would have justified the headline.  So I went back and read more slowly.  There it was--in the 11th paragraph.  And the point they had pulled for the headline wasn't the primary point of the story, or even the secondary point of the story.  It was tied with probably 5 other points for being the tertiary point of the story.

And that was the NYT.

In Rochester, NY a few years ago there was a sudden deterioration of headline writing ability.  Here in Vermont, where almost all newspapers are "small town" by definition, I've seen headlines that would have been laughed out of any journalism class in the country 30 or 40 years ago.  The one example I can remember:
Flakes pile up, then vehicles across the county

I know I'm getting old, but I don't think that explains it.  Things are deteriorating a lot faster than they are being fixed.  A water heater that once carried a 30-year warranty might now have a 5-year warranty.  You can't reach a live human being at hardly any business you call.  Most businesses think they're doing you a favor by keeping you as a customer.  Headline writers can't write headlines, reporters can't report, legislators can't legislate, analysts can't analyze, NASA has an accident rate that would make a car manufacturer blush in shame, and on and on.

This is the basis for an "American Empire?" Someone should tell the Project for a New American Century that we need to worry about making products that work and won't kill you, creating customer service departments that can at least define the words "customer" and "service," and keeping citizens here healthy and employed before we even start start worrying about controlling the world.

Comment from Sarah on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 11:30:39 AM EST

Tell me about it...

Our regional rag, the Virginian Pilot, ran the AP story about the FEMA tape of the Katrina presidential briefing on the front page (The first shocker, as usually news this big and revealing would be relegated to a deep inside page) with the headline, "President Confident During Katrina Briefing". The tie to this headline was a short reference in the 12th paragraph of the article to Bush expressing confidence in the level of preparedness of the government to deal with the situation. If the headline would have been written from the lead of the story as would be proper, it should have read, "FEMA Tape Shows President Warned About Levees Before Storm".

As a former managing and copy editor this sag in journalistic competence and ethics makes me sick.