A letter from the Editors to the Community Take, for example, last week’s news from the Sacramento Bee. There’re gunmen gone mad, politicians publicly taking bribes, civil servants greasing palms and patting butts. That, Cousins, is grist for the mill of news.
How do you judge a news community? By the kind of gripping, hard hitting, gut wrenching news it provides.
Well, Neighbors, you don't measure up.
What do we have to work with here? Sure, there’s an occasional fist fight, but when people fire something at each other here, it’s generally a restraining order. We have a disaster, and volunteers rush in and the next thing you know, it’s all over but the shoutin’, and the news value that could have built over hours and days is gone, wasted. The last time a local newspaper used the term "death toll" they had to work it into a story about ground squirrels on Highway 49.
Take, for example, last week’s news from the Sacramento Bee. There’re gunmen gone mad, politicians publicly taking bribes, civil servants greasing palms and patting butts. That, Cousins, is grist for the mill of news.
Our politicians? Good and decent folk of the kind that turn a newsperson’s stomach. Where is the greed, lust, and public humiliation politicians elsewhere provide their newspapers? Recently, a local politician was seen enjoying a dinner out with a woman who was his WIFE! His wife? He can eat at home with his wife. What is the point of our dropping a five spot on the local tavern keepers every week to tip us off, if we come rushing in to find that the woman is his wife?
Local bureaucrats? Forget it. Looking to them for news is an utter waste of time. The county doesn’t have enough for anyone to steal much. Try calling a county office, what do you hear? Polite, helpful people. Don’t any of you people use drugs at work? Isn’t anyone wacky or jealous or in debt enough to provide real news? Most of you work your butts off all day long and longer. How are we going to do an expose’ of slackers and lackers swilling at the public trough if everyone is working? Someone at the courthouse is setting the wrong example, and when we find out who, there won’t be much to report.
Some counties are going to hell in a hand basket. That is because they have battalions of highly over-educated and hilariously over-paid experts running every detail of the county. Our county, despite a state government that sets the standard for bad example, remains afloat. Why? There are busy little volunteers, taking care of cemeteries, fighting fires, worrying after the fish and the deer, raising money, making food, looking for lost kids, and on and on. Just plain folks doing good, swarming the county like fleas on a dog. Can’t anyone hereabouts mind their own business?
Sure, people here drink a little too much, and once in a while someone takes a poke at someone or has "relations". Before we can wake up the hamster and get it up on line, everybody already knows about it, and not only knows about it but knows a much racier, more provocative version than what actually happened. Generally, people are wrong about names, dates, places, weapons. People! You are not journalists! You are not allowed to inflate, conflate, deflate, and reflate the news! Not just anyone can misquote a source or mispel a name! That is our job, we are trained professionals! We have journalistic licenses.
We hope this little talk has helped. We’re expecting a lot more from you people.
Some tips: Disclaimer: for trained experts only; don’t try this at home: