Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sure could. And then again ...

OK, let's see. Our 1A center- piece subject "always felt different," the lede tells us. "He didn't look like anybody else in his family." Turning to the full page inside devoted to this "national media frenzy," we find that "he was treated differently as a child, almost as an outcast" -- but he's "not angry at the man or* woman who raised him."

Starting with his mother's purported deathbed confession (Through the gibberish, through his gut feeling, he figured it out. He wasn't her son), he began checking things out. And finally he stumbled on the case of the toddler kidnapped in New York, and as Sam used to sing over at Rick's, it had to be you.
When you've got a media frenzy on your hands, who are you going to believe: him or his alleged dad?
Here it is as the AP tells it: ... he never really bonded with the mother and father who raised him. He said they didn't look like him and just didn't seem like family.

"I just had a hunch that something was fishy," said Barnes, a laborer who is now in his 50s.

"I never asked them if they kidnapped me. I asked them why I was so different from them."
Of course, the AP did one thing the Freep didn't (despite, in These Tough Times, siccing three reporters on the story). It asked the alleged dad -- at least, that's what "asked by a reporter" looks like -- if he was a kidnapper, and dad said no. He also gave a date and place for the birth of the youngun in question (naval hospital, Pensacola, August 1955).
Now if you were an editor (and despite all the outside entertainment we try to provide, this an editing blog), how would you weigh your evidence here? Which claims sound plausible and checkable? Want to think about, maybe, hanging on to the story for a day, just in case ...
The FBI said today that test results failed to produce a DNA match between John Barnes of Kalkaska and the woman whom he believed to be his sister.
And if you didn't see that coming -- or didn't think the chances of it were good enough to merit a little caution in your presentation -- too bad for you. Because part of an editor's job is trying not to be blinded by your own hype:
No story has Michigan talking like the case of John Robert Barnes. The Kalkaska man claims to have been abducted in 1955 outside a New York bakery. Read up on the stories to the right, and then let us know what you think.
No different from saying that everyone's enraged, or that entire town is stunned -- just another happy fiction about how things ought to be if everybody thought the way we in the newsroom wanted them to think. I wouldn't bet the McClatchy stock on it, thanks.

Thursday, of course, is the first weekday of home delivery for the Detroit papers. If they're trying to remind me that I don't really need a daily paper in my life, they're doing a fine job of it.
* Nominations for Inept Conjuction of the Month are still being accepted!


Blogger John Cowan said...

I think it's time to revise the old saw: Today's paper wraps today's fish.

1:55 AM, June 19, 2009  
Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

You know, there are zillions of people who, while growing up, felt like they didn't belong or were different or "had to be" adopted.

Few get DNA tests to prove their "fake parents" kidnapped them.

A bit of waiting would have left fewer people with egg on their faces - and might have meant this family would be a bit less publicly torn apart.

8:02 AM, June 19, 2009  

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