Local reporting on a toilet paper roll

I was a reporter for a while. 

I love the idea of what newspapers and magazines and news sources should be. It bugs me they're dying, but it also bugs me that the reporting is getting worse and worse. One of my greatest disappointments in local online reporting from TV news media channels is that their news isn't really news.

KFYR-TV. KX-ETC You know who you are.

You want local news, but you either have to agree to 15K pop-up adds and a Google survey on the local newspaper site, which is an AP article or written by 20-somethings out of school trying to write inflammatory articles to get picked up in any market but here, or go to the television news social pages and read what passes for a news story.

Super Sexy Clickbait Headline!

The stories will have five words or so. One word will have a typo.

There might be a quote.

"I have no context."

"Same person quoted but we cut."

Throw gas on the Facebook comments section with unanswered W questions.

Oops, we put the lede at the bottom. Half of it.

I could present more news on a few squares of toilet paper which, a few months ago, would have actually provided value to the news. What we get, instead, is something like below, with likely comments.


Local Business Shot Customer, Expects More Trump

A local business has shot a customer. The bowling alley recently adjusted its operating hours.

"Straight Shot cleaner has worked really well for us," said owner Haywood Jablome.

Jablome will not have to register as a sex offender.


Jim Johnson: Trump voters are idiots!

Ole Svenson: MAGA!
    Ariana Bear: Must be more of that "north dakota smart" #WaterIsLife

Dirk Toughguy: vigilante justice for this pig. string hem up

Norm Al: This is a terrible article. It doesn't even tell us where this business is located.
    Dirk Toughguy: you must be a Biden supporter
    Professor Nachos: strawman

Karen Carey: Where does he live?! How are we supposed to protect our children?!
    Professor Nachos: appeal to authority
    Tania Erickson: Shut up karen LOL 
    Skinny McWhite Teen: [inappropriate GIF]
    Chubby McPimple Teen: [pointless GIF]
    Skinny McWhite Teen: [inappropriate GIF]
    Betty Whatevs: Who even cares.

Karen Carey: You people are disgusting. Why don't you find something better to do?
    Skinny McWhite Teen: [inappropriate GIF]
    Dirk Toughguy: whatsa matter kAren you a Biden supporter?
    Skinny McWhite Teen: [inappropriate GIF]
    Professor Nachos: Tu Quoque

Jim Johnson: You trumpers are all idiots always


Thanks, local media, for providing information on the news we care about with as few details as possible to confuse as many as possible. 

Your job here is done.



  1. "You want local news, but you either have to agree to 15K pop-up adds and a Google survey on the local newspaper site, which is an AP article or written by 20-somethings out of school ... "

    It would be easy to take gratuitous cheap shots at the 20-somethings. I know it's easy, because I've done it myself, again and again. They're grossly undereducated, and mostly have a nodding acquaintance, at best, with what could once have been called "standard English," a term that is basically a sour joke now. But that's not their fault; earlier generations, including mine, are to blame for this. We were too damn busy amusing ourselves to put in the work of helping these folks learn real things, and requiring them to meet decent standards. We dis-served them, and now they are returning the favor. Not out of malice, either; it's all they know.

    Meanwhile, print journalism is dead, and electronic journalism is close behind -- both broadcast and online. It isn't worth paying for, so no one pays for it, any more than what our ad-blockers can prevent. So no one in the moribund business of journalism can afford the little niceties like editing, and the product becomes even less worth paying for, and the converging spiral 'round the drain continues. Not that I'm saying things can't get worse. Saying that is another mistake I used to make, and that I hope brutal experience has cured me of; we probably aren't close to hitting bottom yet, and "bottom" is likely to be way uglier than we imagine. Remember the movie "Idiocracy?" It's pretty much here, and will be surpassed soon enough.

    Despair is another error to be avoided (and a sin besides). We tend to make linear projections of the trends; "tomorrow will be like today, but even more so." The world is ending. But throughout recorded history, the world's often -- maybe even usually? -- been ending, and then something unlooked-for and disruptive happens. Almost as if some sort of divine providence is operating. Meanwhile, sane people must work, pray, and refrain from expecting this world to be better than it is. "We must tend our gardens."


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