Thursday, February 05, 2009

No, not really

If the top late-breaking news story under your "More from the Newsroom" tab is going to be a wire tale from the coast of a neighboring state, do you suppose maybe it'd be a good idea to ensure that it wasn't ... um, a free ad cleverly hidden in a lede of clue-defying inanity?

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Starting a family might be a little easier with a trip to Ripley's Believe It or Not museum in Myrtle Beach. (If you're thinking of the Woody Allen movie I'm thinking of, maybe. Otherwise, not.) The museum on Thursday opens a monthlong display of its fertility statues. The 5-foot tall wooden statues were acquired on the Ivory Coast of West Africa in 1993. (That wouldn't be the country known as "Ivory Coast," would it? Given the prevalence of "independent states" in Africa these days? Or does "editing" no longer include stuff like "asking which century the Ripley's PR people live in"?) The company says they were then placed in its corporate headquarters in Orlando, Fla., and within months, 13 women became pregnant. (ZOMG! Thirteen women pregnant in the tiny hamlet of Orlando in mere months! Call the -- oops, wrong free ad.)

The statues have since been on display around the world. According to the company, more than 2,000 women have reported becoming pregnant after touching the statues. (So your standard for "news" is "whatever a company says in a press release"? Just checking.)

They will be on display at Ripley's through the first of March. The company says couples wanting to have a baby can touch the statues for free during business hours.
(See there? Service journalism is alive and well.)

Hard to top a story like that, except -- you guessed it! With a hed like "Careful! These statues could get you pregnant." Wasn't anybody just a little embarrassed by this whole thing?

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose they could have written "the West African country of Cote d'Ivoire", but that would have scared the readership, no?

10:21 PM, February 05, 2009  
Blogger fev said...

Scared half and had the other half writing outraged letters to complain about what Those People want next, no doubt.

AP still uses "Ivory Coast," but it doesn't use the article, and it uses the preposition 'in', not 'on' (except for one-offs like "a shoo-in for a spot on the Ivory Coast national team," you don't get many hits in recent years for "on the Ivory Coast," at least in international copy).

Judging from some of the other coverage, the artifacts were first collected in the 1930s; that may have set off some confusion. And some places have goofbag rules about prepositions with certain place names; I used to work with an editor who insisted that things could never happen "in" the West Bank, only "on" the West Bank. Or the writer might have just analogized from "Gulf Coast."

10:52 PM, February 05, 2009  
Anonymous Angeline said...

I worked at a "paper" (in Florida) that did just that -- it recycled press releases as stories all the time. Glad to know but sad to see it's happening elsewhere, too.

2:24 PM, February 06, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In answer to your last question, yes.

7:43 PM, February 06, 2009  
Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

"The company says they were then placed in its corporate headquarters in Orlando, Fla., and within months, 13 women became pregnant. (ZOMG! Thirteen women pregnant in the tiny hamlet of Orlando in mere months! Call the -- oops, wrong free ad.)"

To be fair, they might have meant 13 women *in the corporate headquarters", but that hardly excuses the piece.

1:22 PM, February 07, 2009  

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