Saturday, October 31, 2009

Love the hardware

Well, here's a new touch on the dreary Halloween 1A feature! We don't just work in the tedious local angle, we tell you what you need from the Radio Shack:

For ghostly goings-on, paranormal researcher Joshua Snipes ranks Lincoln County right on top.

While recently filming a documentary about haunted historic places, he felt someone, or something, looking at him.

Nothing was there, but his ghost-hunting thermometer and electromagnetic meter went crazy.

That doesn't sound very empirical. Can we do better?

At Lincoln County's cultural center, spectral readings soared in the former church sanctuary where weddings and funerals were once conducted, Snipes said.

A "supernatural gateway," he called it.

In a photo taken outside, he spotted a small child at a window enveloped by "echo mist."

Ghostly readings also were high at the 19th century Madison Iron Furnace and the old Lincoln County jail, Snipes said. As he and co-producer Terry Huss wandered through the jail their cell phone service died and temperatures shot past 90 -- a sure sign of paranormal activity, Snipes said.

I had a car like that once too.

Anyway, season's greetings to all our friends and their familiars. Set your clocks back, rotate your tires, and don't forget to report those effect sizes!


A billion here, a billion there:

An article on Friday about quarterly results from Sprint described incorrectly one forecast for the quarter from investment analysts. The analysts had predicted revenue of $8.09 billion; they did not predict that the company would lose that amount.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Almost too strange for words

This hed is much stranger than it looks. "Murder" is a legal determination, not a medical one. It's a kind of killing, but the matters that distinguish it from justifiable or accidental killings (or lesser degrees of deliberate killings) aren't the sort of things you get to judge on the copydesk.

Granted, you see "murder" in a lot of heds written before a murder verdict comes down, but if there's anyone around who might dispute the issue, even an inept or tabloid-hyperbolic desk will at least wait for a cue before screaming MURDER! Ideally, that'd be at least a charge of murder, but at any rate, desks try not to get offside on a story: just as the hed can't say "dictator" unless the story does, a hed usually won't say "murder" unless it's cued by the story.

Now things even stranger. Here's the lede credited to the AP, as it appears at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network:

DETROIT — A mosque on Friday dismissed as "utterly preposterous" the FBI's allegations that its murdered leader was part of a radical Islamic group.

Which is nice, but not exactly what the AP wrote:

DETROIT -- A mosque on Friday dismissed as "utterly preposterous" the FBI's allegations that its slain leader was part of a radical Islamic group.

That's from a paper that usually puts the wire up untouched, but "slain leader" is the wording the AP uses in its story for Saturday ayems, in the budget line on the Michigan wire, and in other stories and sidebars today and yesterday. (If you haven't been keeping up, the imam was shot and killed during a raid Wednesday; as the AP puts it, "the FBI says he resisted arrest inside a warehouse and fired a gun.")

This can't be an accident. Fox must have changed "slain" to "murdered." Which fits with Fox's approach to news in general, except that here, it turns the FBI into murderers and puts a new twist on a character who -- oh, let's let Fox tell us what it thought yesterday in its own inimitable prose:

In a federal complaint, FBI Special Agent, Gary Leone describes Abdullah advocates for the "spread of Islam through violent jihad and violence against the United States government and against law enforcement."

For a desk to decide on its own that this series of events constitutes a "murder" is a distinctly ideological decision. Fox makes a lot of ideological decisions with AP copy, but they run in the exact opposite direction. In effect, it's libeling the FBI agents and exonerating the folks it usually tends to libel. It'll be interesting to see what Fox comes up with next.

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Your constitutional rights at work

So the "Obama song" lyrics are "unavailable," eh? How might we have come to know that?

Officials at a New Jersey school district have turned over to requested copies of a notice and program for an assembly at which second-graders performed a controversial song praising President Obama, but the district has yet to produce song lyrics that, officials say, also were sent to parents. filed an open records request Oct. 19 seeking copies of materials provided to parents of students at B. Bernice Young Elementary School prior to the song's performance at the assembly in February. The song sparked a national controversy when someone posted to YouTube a video of the students performing it again, on March 23, when author Charisse Carney-Nunes visited the school in recognition of Women's History Month.

In case you're among the fraction of the population for whom this was indeed a "national controversy,"* rest easy. is putting the mighty legal engine that is Freedom of the Press to work on your behalf. May the Lord make us truly thankful.

We live in an age of heightened attention to the Constitution,** and you can't blame the poor old document if it's happy to be noticed again after all these years. In that light, it's important to note that the First Amendment isn't limited to those with clues, skills, or a genuine ethic of public service. It spreads its refulgent beams over the evil and clueless as well, as long as they aren't giving out the sailing dates of troopships or falsely shouting "fire" in crowded theaters. We can't, and shouldn't, stop them. But we can, and should, make merciless fun of them every time they poke their noses out. Sweet reason doesn't seem to be working.

* The "Obama song" is a serious dog-whistle for the droolers, if you haven't noticed. All you have to do is say "mmm mmm mmm." I heard a caller on Limbaugh doing it today.
** That must be why commenters on news stories make demands like "Tell me where in the Constitution it says Congress can take my money."


Thursday, October 29, 2009

War on Christmas comes early

No global warming on Planet Fox! It's two days to Halloween, and the first clash in the War on Christmas is already in the books.


But who runs winter?

Give up?

Detroit Fire Department runs are down 12% so far this year compared to 2008, but officials still are on edge about this year's Angels' Night anti-arson patrols.

You can probably get the hed at first glance if you're primed by the lede: "fire runs" is the NP, and "fall" is the verb, not the direct object. But requiring people to read the lede first sort of defeats the purpose of the hed, doesn't it?


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reportedly suspected

A lovely double hedge -- neither one worth much from a libel or fairness perspective -- from the Fair 'n' Balanced Network.

Why is it important to note that a teen girl is suspectedly the reported killer, or reportedly the suspected killer, or whatever?

The unidentified 15-year-old suspect, who several media outlets say is a girl, has been charged with first-degree murder in Elizabeth's death.

She is being held as a juvenile until the judge decides next month whether the case in St. Martins, Mo., should be tried in adult court.

So "reportedly" is apparently qualifying the suspect's alleged girlhood (though that "she" seems pretty certain on the matter), while "suspected" is qualifying her (or his) reported killerhood? Glad we cleared that up.

So on the front page as of this writing, we have terrorists, pirates, two slain children (and a teenager attacked by people with funny names at her homecoming dance), more War On Fox and a search for Bigfoot. Amazing there's still room for Pelosicare.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Editing for clues: Epic fail

"Some ask," eh? Let's have a look at this burst of cask-strength 1A cluelessness from Kansas City in the hopes that other McClatchy papers will have the good sense to forbear:

If swine flu sneezes, will health care reform catch a cold?

Like anxious doctors in an emergency room, health system stakeholders are now trying to answer that question, carefully taking the public’s temperature while watching for warning signs of anger or frustration over the government response to the H1N1 virus.*

The concern: Long lines and vaccine shortages could convince millions of Americans — and one or two crucial members of Congress — that a Washington that can’t deliver flu shots can’t deliver health care reform either.

Could happen. And it'll be a lot easier if you people in charge of the media agenda take non sequiturs at face value.

...Some Democrats insisted that the H1N1 response and the health care debate are only marginally related. (They "insist" it because it's true. Take your thumb off the scales.) One involved a public health response, they said, the other major reforms in health insurance coverage.

But political opponents said the vaccine shortages showed the federal government was ill-prepared to rearrange the nation’s medical care.

“If Kathy (Sebelius) can’t even properly supervise the distribution of vaccines, how in God’s name can we trust them to run our health care system?” asked the conservative Web site Stay Red Kansas.

By now you may have noticed that we don't have a legitimate debate point here.** We have a snowclone: If the government can't [X], how do you expect it to [Y]? Pending approval from upcampus, I'm tempted to classify this form of political discourse as a creedal snowclone. It's an observation about how the political world works in accordance with shared belief:

Priest: If the government can't even deliver the mail ...
Congregation: How can we trust it to run the health care system?
Priest: Reagan have mercy upon us
Congregation: Rush have mercy upon us

You've probably seen quite a few of these in the health care "debate":

Do you want your health care system run like the Department of Motor Vehicles? (No, I want it run like the cable company.)

Government can never run anything as well as the private sector can. (Fine. Let's dig into the records and do a big-N analysis of on-time arrivals. You take USAir; I'll take Deutsche Bundesbahn. Ready?)

Disagreeing with a creedal snowclone is like saying a nice thing about the IRS. It simply doesn't happen, even if your only encounters with the IRS have been prompt, friendly and professional, because the point isn't to build or share knowledge about how people interact with agencies. It's to affirm a shared experience with the awfulness of bureaucracy.

Journalism, on the other hand, is supposed to transmit information along with all the cultural frou-frou. When you see a false analogy, a non sequitur or a raw fabrication, you aren't supposed to take it at face value. If you can't bring yourself to call it out on the spot, at least put it into context:

“If Kathy (Sebelius) can’t even properly supervise the distribution of vaccines, how in God’s name can we trust them to run our health care system?” asked the conservative Web site Stay Red Kansas. Asked why in God's name we should have trusted the government to mount a combined-arms invasion of a country 10 time zones away, Stay Red Kansas sputtered and gave off an acrid odor before shutting down for instructions from Roger Ailes.

Welcome to the world, Stay Red Kansas. Plans, even very carefully done ones, often don't survive contact with the enemy. Stuff happens, and sometimes it happens in ways that don't have anything to do with the eventual success of the encounter or the likelihood of success in future encounters.

The First Amendment is blunt about the sorts of speech and writing it protects: Pretty much everything. But the right to an opinion does not entail a right to an amplifier. Newspapers have a right to do whatever they want, but as journalism has evolved over the past century or so, they have an obligation to do things right. By not calling bullshit on a blatant creedal snowclone, the Star is failing on that one.

* Off topic, but ... is this an outstanding stew of mixed metaphors, or what?
** You can see why the NYT wants to start keeping an eye on the realm of foil-helmet thought, but also why it might not want to take too many such ideas seriously:

Could a form of martial law be imminent? Obama appears ready to cross the Rubicon, and all he needs is a killer virus. Let’s connect some dots.

Just another prelude to the Obama administration grabbing more power and taking away more freedoms.

And where in the Constitution does it say that the President can declare a "national emergency" anyway? Did he consult Congress?

Maybe they will suspend the November elections or the 2010 midterms out of concern for our health, lots of germs can be spread in a voting booth you know. Camp Obama here we come...

Is this the “national emergency” that will trigger deployment of his “Civilian National Defense force??

“National Emergency” is the first step to the Zer0- Marxist-Muslum-Kenyan’s failed attempt at declaring Marshall Law.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Did you hear about the time ...

... FDR brought an Iron Cross to a press conference to bestow on (an absent) John O'Donnell of the New York Daily News?

The incident did not stop there. When O'Donnell returned from the war in 1945 and along with another Patterson-McCormick correspondent asked for credentials to attend White House press conferences, the president said no because of "their isolationist, anti-British, anti-Russian pens." The response became public when the Philadelphia Record reported that Steve Early threatened resignation before Roosevelt finally yielded.

(Press-v.-White House hijinx provided, again, by Betty Winfield, "FDR and the News Media.")

Count noun of the morning

During his time in Sicily, Mr. Aluia served in the Italian army during World War II and was a prisoner of war in En­gland for nine years, patrio­tisms that earned him a medal from the Italian Consulate in Detroit approximately four de­cades later.

Inquiring minds also might want to know a bit more about how he managed to be a POW for nine years and still serve in World War II. Can anyone make those patriotisms square up?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Make up your mind

Is "couple" singular or plural? The AP stylebook, wisely, says it depends. But letting it be both in the same clause is a little excessive:

Now, the Zarbs and an Ypsilanti cou­ple, who also was stuck with an out­standing $113,266 loan on an RV they traded in last year, are suing Walt Mi­chal in Wayne County Circuit Court in an uphill battle to force him to pay off the debts.

You can tell that there's a lot of work going on here. It isn't always very careful or very relevant work. The Freep, as usual, is obsessed with not splitting verbs -- hence the "also was stuck" here, but also the "now is out of business" in the preceding graf, where there isn't a compound verb to split. The cutlines zealously follow Freep style in identifying the actors by name, age and hometown, but they can't decide whether the guy should be "Bob Zarb, 51, of Waterford" or "Robert Zarb, 51, of Waterford.

The biggest waste of effort is one you can't see in the online version. The redesign's no-jump policy carries over to inside stories as well. In print, the story starts on 9A and finishes on 15A, and since each one is self-contained, it starts and finishes twice. That's worse than 1A billboarding, in which a three-graf story on the front signals a whole story inside,* because each of the inside stories is the centerpiece of its page. There's nothing in the first iteration that isn't in the second, except that you see the couple outside the RV rather than inside it.

Time is a zero-sum game. If we have so little of it, should we be trying to use it a little more smartly?

* If you read the Freep every day, you know better than to start with the front if you're looking for news anyway.

'The regimentation of our press'

A recently reelected FDR addresses the Gridiron dinner, December 1936:

This character Roosevelt was a villain. He combined the worst features of Ivan the Terrible, Machiavelli, Judas Iscariot, Henry VIII, Charlotte Corday and Jesse James. ... I began to believe it myself. Didn't I read it in the columns of our great papers? ...

Yet some people ... speak of the danger of the regimentation of our press. ... Suppose the government required newspapers to purchase and print some of the canned editorial features dealing with national affairs that now fill our Press! The outcries of editors here tonight would be heard around the world. Gentlemen, it needs no government to regiment the American press. Any regimenting of the American press which is present today or looms in the offing comes from regimenting of it by the press itself.

-- Betty Winfield, "FDR and the News Media." Neither Dr. Winfield nor FDR is responsible for any linkage to any canned editorial features marketed by any purportedly liberal newspapers.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

'What are you doing to save it?'

To help put the War On Fox into perspective, this week's bonus reading segment features Betty Winfield's "FDR and the News Media." The Tribune in question is Robert R. "Bertie" McCormick's Chicago Tribune (the World's Greatest Newspaper), and the year is 1936:

From the beginning of August, the Tribune telephone operators answered the telephone with "Good afternoon," followed by the Tribune's daily box and changing numbers: "Only 92 days remain to save your country. What are you doing to save it?" After the president spoke in Chicago, the Tribune staged a picture of a man sweeping up discarded Roosevelt buttons from Chicago's streets. The Chicago Times discovered that McCormick had paid the sweeper and donated the buttons.

This is not good

You jest. A Friday? At Coop's? In mid-October? Canceled due to "cold" "weather"?

This does not bode well for journalism education.


Friday, October 23, 2009

If your mother says ...

Hey, kids! Remember when journalism had "rules" about "verifying" rumors before running them?

But according to several reports on Facebook pages Friday morning, Jessup is hospitalized at Carolinas Medical Center and is in serious condition. Friends are asking one another to pray for her recovery.

Police have said there was no apparent foul play in the case, so it is unclear what might have happened.

If your mother says she loves you, check her Facebook page.

And why did you come to Casablanca?

Perhaps someone looked out the window while en route to the Balloon Boy news conference:

The theory was that he had set the bomb off in Denver or in the area surrounding it, not “somewhere in the desert around Denver.” (There is no desert around Denver.)

This should be embarrassing

Ahem. Now that we've given up on generating original news and have confined ourselves to doing a really, really good job at covering sports -- could we at least make sure we're writing about the same sport we sent out to cover?

Generally, "college hoops" is a game you play indoors in your underwear. The one you play outdoors in helmets is almost certainly "football." Do make a note of it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Teh goggie did it!

How does moronic pseudo-science work its way onto the public agenda? Because moronic pseudo-journalists put it there!

Not to beat a dead dog into the ground or anything, but that's another one of those reasons that Fox brand news is genuinely different from grownup news. This is agenda-setting with a vengeance. It's the No. 3 top super-important story in the whole world because it helps you sort the world into good guys and bad guys, and it does so in a distinctively Foxian way. Thus, it's going to have to push some critically important stories downpage:

A number of high-profile musicians -- including members of Pearl Jam, R.E.M. and the Roots -- pressed the government Thursday to name the songs it blasted at the Guantanamo detainee center to coerce or punish prisoners held there, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

Hugo Chavez is telling Venezuelans to limit their showers to three minutes, because they are "not in times of Jacuzzi," the Daily Mail reported.

House Republican leaders on Thursday rushed to the defense of conservative commentators after President Obama dismissed Fox News as "talk radio" -- part of the White House campaign to marginalize opposing viewpoints.

... because another front in the culture war is in fresh danger:

SUVs owners are often castigated by treehuggers for their Earth-unfriendly lifestyle. A new book argues that pets are just as bad.

Go through and have a good time with the math and logic yourself (here's the original story, if you're wondering where some of the numbers came from or how close Fox can skate to the plagiarism line when the safety of Our Way of Life is involved). Or check here and see whether Toyota will sell you a Land Cruiser with an engine that small; Toyota thinks I need the 5.7, but then again Woodward Avenue* does go through my zip code.

The problem with Fox isn't that the editorials are different. The problem with Fox is that the news is different. And the problem with the reporting on the Great Fox War is that the alleged professionals at the big serious papers don't seem to have caught on. Gentlepersons, do you need a map?

* Why does Fox hate America?


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Unfortunate coordination department

And this just in, from the F&BN's coverage of the case of the missing 7-year-old in Florida (alas, the "65 pounds of innocence: vanished" hed seems to have vanished too):

Somer's mother and boyfriend searched up and down the block for her when she didn't come home.

Not to break the mood or anything, but -- whose boyfriend?


Monday, October 19, 2009

Artful dodgery

Watch the quotation marks carefully, because if you miss one, you'll get -- well, probably just the impression the Fair 'n' Balanced Network would like you to get.

Based on the evidence Fox provides, of course, that'd be a strikingly dishonest reading. So add this one to the list of things that distinguish Fox from real journalism, in case you'd forgotten it from the latter stages of the 2008 campaign: leading the page with disingenuous quote-mines from nine-month-old (or older) tapes.

Here's what she said, to hear Fox tell it:

"Very rarely did we communicate through the press anything that we didn't absolutely control," Dunn said, admitting that the strategy "did not always make us popular in the press."

What she seems to be saying is that the campaign, um, tried to control what it communicated:

"Whether it was a David Plouffe video or an Obama speech, a huge part of our press strategy was focused on making the media cover what Obama was actually saying as opposed to why the campaign was saying it," she said. "One of the reasons we did so many of the David Plouffe videos was not just for our supporters, but also because it was a way for us to get our message out without having to actually talk to reporters. ... We just put that out there and made them write what Plouffe had said as opposed to Plouffe doing an interview with a reporter. So it was very much we controlled it as opposed to the press controlled it."

Which sounds a lot like the virtue once known as "message discipline" -- the sort of trait that people admire among their own favorites as quickly as they disparage it in the opposing camp (I'm principled, you're stubborn). Business Week thought the 2004 Bush White House needed more of it:*

A White House that prides itself on meticulous planning and message discipline has lately been flailing. From the extra $140 billion that suddenly appeared in George W. Bush's Medicare drug bill to the forecast of 2.6 million jobs that quickly disappeared from the Economic Report of the President, Bush's political team seems less than sure-footed.

The foreigners were impressed in December 2002:

The spin doctors of Washington have been in awe of the White House's "message discipline".

When Fox itself reports on the matter, message discipline is an out-and-out compliment, however grudging:

"In one sense, Ari and Scott are remarkably similar," Koffler said. "They both have enormous message discipline. It's been nearly impossible during the briefings to get either of them to serve up news that they hadn't previously planned to give you."

So a reasonable reaction to the appearance of this story is: Why would this even have been news nine months ago? "Control the message" has all the innovative strategic brilliance of "go fast, turn left." Surely there's another missing mom somewhere, or another school where the kiddies have been barred from pledging allegiance to the flag, or something?

It's news now, of course, because it pushes so many buttons. The Anti-Fox War has become part of the generalized war on American values, so it helps to keep that front and center. There's a long-hidden tape to play on the Beck show (just like the one that got that czar fella). And, of course, there's the overriding theme of a craven media system controlled by the White House.

It hardly matters that she didn't say "we controlled the press." On Planet Fox, she might as well have.

* Astute readers will also note that Business Week doesn't even blink, earlier in the item, at the prospect of a "manufacturing czar."


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Planet Fox declares war!

Do you get the idea that a particular topic is drifting toward the top of what we call the "news agenda" over at a certain network known worldwide for its fairness and balancehood?

Right, that's now three days out of the past seven (the image at top right is from this afternoon, with Tuesday and Monday images below it) that Fox's victimization at the hands of the power-hungry Muslim-Marxist cabal at the White House has been at the top of the front page. What seems to be happening is that assorted administration functionaries are pointing out in public that Fox-flavored news is ... well, let's let them explain it themselves:

"A lot of their news programming, it's really not news. It's pushing a point of view," senior adviser David Axelrod said on ABC's "This Week. (Well, yeah.)

"The way we -- the president looks at it and we look at it, is, it is not a news organization so much as it has a perspective," White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel added on CNN's "State of the Union." (A little off target, but ... yeah.)

The open assault on Fox News began last weekend when White House Communications Director Anita Dunn accused the network of being a "wing of the Republican Party."

"What I think is fair to say about Fox -- and certainly it's the way we view it -- is that it really is more a wing of the Republican Party," Dunn said on CNN. "They take their talking points, put them on the air; take their opposition research, put them on the air. And that's fine. But let's not pretend they're a news network the way CNN is." (A bit overkind to CNN, but ... she has a point.)

Here's how Fox defended itself last week:

Fox News senior vice president Michael Clemente, who likens the channel to a newspaper with separate sections on straight news and commentary, suggested White House officials were intentionally conflating opinion show hosts like Glenn Beck with news reporters like Major Garrett.

"It's astounding the White House cannot distinguish between news and opinion programming," Clemente said.

Today it managed to find an outside source -- the repellent toad Karl Rove -- to say the same thing:

Former Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove said Fox News' commentators have been tough on Obama but the White House appears to be confusing the news and opinion that appears on the network.

"They're conflating the news side and the opinion side in order to -- in order to attack a media outlet. Again, it's undignified for the president of the United States to be doing" Rove said on "Fox News Sunday." He added that it is the administration's practice to attack its critics full-throttle.

"I think this White House is dominated by Chicago- style politics, so if you don't like the questions that are being asked by Major Garrett or Wendell Goler or Chris Wallace, then you try and demonize Fox News," he said.

Nice bank shot: note how he managed to get the Chicago thing in as well? But the important thing is that Rove and the Fox official are both playing sleight-of-hand in the same direction. The problem with Fox News isn't the opinion side; the news side itself is the party organ. Fox isn't just a CNN or Times with a different tone on the editorial page. It's a whole different creature. It does stuff you just don't see real news doing anymore.

Fox doesn't necessarily make stuff up (at least, not often). Fox is more like a crooked cop. It knows the rules; it just has a very well-developed sense of when to look the other way. If the Mail or the Torygraph happens to invent a story that makes the villain of the day look bad, who's going to blame Fox if it doesn't ask the sort of questions that might occur to an inquisitive three-year-old before running the thing as "reports say"?

Nor is Fox uniquely inept with polling data. The Times often does a sloppy job with survey results, partly because the Times doesn't have a very clear grasp of how confidence levels work and partly because it has trouble telling debate from reporting. Both shortcomings are widespread in journalism, and -- as at the Times -- they tend to result in evenly distributed ineptitude. Some days one party benefits from the clueless hed; other days, it's the other guys. At Fox, the errors all seem to run in one direction. After a while, one starts to wonder why.

It's worth remembering, in the course of all this, that powerful, frenetic, shameless, hard-right media outfits aren't exactly new in the U.S. media-politics spectrum. If you keep up with stuff like how your news organizations perform in conflicts and crises (and who doesn't?),* you might be reminded of, oh, a time when fascism actually was on the march and one political party was actually trying to do something about it. Let's close with a sermon from Cissy Patterson of the Washington Times-Herald (and, needless to say, cousin of Chicago's Bertie McCormick), as reported by David Brinkley in his very enjoyable "Washington Goes to War." She's talking about Drew Pearson, Walter Winchell

and other Quislings [who] manage to get paid big money for their treachery. ... This filthy work of plotting, planning, sneaking, lying, spying, cheating, stealing, smearing in the mere HOPE of one day overthrowing our American form of government.

... Yes, they're nutty, all right, these 'liberals' -- for they can't see further ahead than the first frenzied days of plunder, murder, fire, rape and prancing about with pale, fresh-cut human heads on bloody pikes.

Almost makes Glenn Beck sound like a freaking grownup, doesn't it?

* Some major research universities offer special-topics courses in this very subject! Be sure to ask for it by name.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Journalism? Nope. Never heard of it.

Some days people ask me what I teach and I say "journalism." Other days people ask me what I teach and I say "mass communication." See if you can guess which kind of day today is:

The saga grew stranger throughout the day. Richard Heene knocked on the windows of journalists camped outside his home early Saturday and promised a "big announcement" in a few hours, then did an about-face when he told reporters that they should leave questions in a cardboard box on the front doorstep. "Absolutely no hoax. I want your questions in the box," he said, waving a cardboard container before going back into his home.

Did you notice the condition entailed here? That for this goober to knock on the windows of journalists camped outside his home, there have to be journalists with windows camped outside his home? Where they're apparently camped (with windows) in lieu of covering any of the 190-some countries they couldn't identify if there were nuclear plumes rising off 'em? Or filing FOIA requests, or learning how to do something useful with a spreadsheet, or having a glass of wine and pondering the vagaries of life, or anything else it might plausibly be interesting for journalists to be doing?

I don't want to get into the habit of quoting Maggie Thatcher, but it seems that starving these yahoos -- and their fellow actors in non-stories everywhere -- of the oxygen of publicity might be the beginning of wisdom.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Block that correction!

Hey, kids! Want to keep your paper from running a correction? Just take this graf:

Obama cited Bush's long record of public service, which began as a young fighter pilot in World War II. He said Bush's "life of service is an inspiration to all of us."

... and change "fighter pilot" to "bomber pilot." You don't even have to ask!


Aiding and abetting

Q: Is there a worse offense than putting the "Balloon Boy" story at the top of the front page?
A: Yes. For example, one might reach into the bag of Great Cliches and come out with "Up, up and away" for the hed. But surely no editor would ... oh.

Speaking for the pitiful remnant that somehow managed to get through the day untransfixed by this ridiculous tale -- what were you guys thinking? The cable networks, fine, but a double byline (Colorado) and five staffers (New York, Washington, Chicago) contributing on the front of the Paper of Record? Could serious journalism possibly get worse?

For three hours on a workaday Thursday, a mesmerized and helpless America watched this shiny silvery disc spin slowly against a brilliant blue sky with puffy white clouds.

Oh, come on. I can't believe this got all the way through the Post's copy desk without violent horking noises signaling its likely impact on the pitiful, helpless giant that is the American news audience.

Surely it was clear by the time the fronts were drawn up last night how stupid this would look in the morning. Any reason not to listen then?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Eds: Inserts dropped word "not"

Should we tell George Will before it's too late? "No, George! DON'T! They said 'DON'T do the brown acid!'" Or should we just sit back and watch the fun?

Consider nature. Not the placid nature that Constable painted, but nature as Tennyson saw it, "red in tooth and claw." To glimpse a state of nature as Hobbes imagined it, where human life is "nasty, brutish and short," visit the Whole Foods store on River Road in Bethesda. There, and -- let the political profiling begin -- probably at many Whole Foods stores and other magnets for liberals nationwide, you will see proof of this social equation: Four Priuses + three parking spaces = angry anarchy.

"I won't go schizo, will I?"
"It's a distinct possibility."

Anger is one of the seven deadly sins. Therefore advanced thinkers are agreed that conservatives are especially susceptible to it. As everyone knows, all liberals are advanced thinkers and all advanced thinkers are liberals. And yet. . . .

If you think the health-care town halls in August cornered the market on anger, come to Bethesda and watch the private security force -- normal men in an abnormal situation -- wage a losing struggle to keep the lid on liberal anger. When parking-lot congestion impedes the advance of responsible eaters toward the bin of heirloom tomatoes, you see that anger comes in many flavors.

You can tell this is going to be more fun than fabricated inferences about pronoun rates, because we don't even have to count anything. We're just going to riff about Those Liberals for a while.

You also see the problem with founding a nation, as America is founded, on the principle that human beings are rights-bearing creatures. That they are. But if that is all they are, batten down the hatches.

Go read the whole thing, if only to watch Will bring it all full circle:

Fortunately, it is a short drive from Chevy Chase to the mellow oasis of the River Road Whole Foods store, where comity can be rebuilt on the firm foundation of a shared reverence for heirloom tomatoes. And if you, you seething liberal, will put the pedal to the metal you can seize the store's last parking place. So damn the humps, full speed ahead.

... but don't blame me if you're slightly less smart after you read it than you were before. George Will has formally crossed the line and is now actively subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fear factor!

If you haven't checked in recently, yeah -- things are still spinning along as usual over at Planet Fox. Let's let the star of the day sum it up:

"This is not about the NFL, it's not about the St. Louis Rams, it's not about me," Limbaugh said. "This is about the ongoing effort by the left in this country, wherever you find them, in the media, the Democrat Party, or wherever, to destroy conservatism, to prevent the mainstreaming of anyone who is prominent as a conservative.

"Therefore, this is about the future of the United States of America and what kind of country we're going to have."

You heard the man. This is serious. I mean, how else could it push the Muslim spies and the Obama song so far downpage?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mythology posing as journalism

It's unusual to see a story with such a low ratio of facts (pretty much none, actually) to self-serving cultural generalizations:

Manners help make a miracle
Southern politeness may have saved lives amid the chaos after Charlotte-bound Flight 1549 crashed in the Hudson River, says a new book
(Notice that a couple of different levels of knowledge are in play here? The hed asserts the role of manners in the "miracle" as a fact; the deck attributes the "Southern politeness" bit to a "new book." Neither one quite corresponds with the teaser on the Web front, shown at lower right: "passengers say." )

Nine months after skidding to salvation on the icy Hudson River, passengers of Charlotte-bound Flight 1549 have their say in a book being released today, one that contains an intriguing hypothesis:

A key reason that evacuation of the jetliner went so smoothly was because it was largely populated by Southerners.

This isn't a "hypothesis" in any meaningful sense (and if there's any evidence that it's "contained" in the book -- for example, a quote from the book to the effect that Southerners made the difference -- the story doesn't report it).

While there were sporadic acts of ugliness in the chaos after the splashdown -- at least two passengers said their seat-cushion floatation devices were snatched by others -- an inbred politeness seemed to be at work, says William Prochnau, author of "Miracle on the Hudson: The Survivors of Flight 1549."

"There's something to that," says Prochnau, who assembled the stories of 118 of the 150 passengers for the book co-written by his wife, Laura Parker. Prochnau said in researching the book, they learned that whenever someone felt a rising sense of panic, others in the group settled them genteelly and guided them through the ordeal. About 100 of the passengers were from the South.

"Something to" what? The idea that some sort of "inbred"* politeness led some people to calm other people down? Or to the reporter's point that about two-thirds of the passengers were "from the South"?

Anyway, to get back to the "hypothesis" the reporter is trying to unearth -- broadly, it's something like "the residence of disaster victims affects their likelihood of panic," but more directionally, it's something like "Southerners are less likely than other Americans to panic during a disaster." It's going to be tricky to test. I don't know about you, but my IRB is going to take a dim view of a proposal to stage airline crashes to examine the effect of regional residence on evacuation effectiveness, so we'd have to use a "quasi-experiment": looking at other crashes to see what seems to be associated with survival.

Do you see some confounding variables emerging here? Aside from the training and performance of the flight crew (both central to having intact people and a fairly intact plane to escape from), how do we make sure we're measuring only what we claim to measure? Do you have natural Southern politeness if your ticket says you're from Waxhaw but you moved there from Jersey three years ago? Do we know it's a regional characteristic, not a national one? Is the performance of "most" passengers essential, or do just a few do the bulk of the moving, calming and organizing?** What effect did the local rescue crews (or the tax structure that supports them, or their post-9/11 training) have?

Turn to the outcome for a second, because to have a research hypothesis (rather than a "null"), it has to be different from what we'd normally expect. I'm not convinced that it is. Disaster behavior has been studied for decades, and one very consistent conclusion is that lots of what people believe is wrong. Panic "is a very rare phenomenon in American disasters," Dennis Wenger wrote back in 1985. "Mass panic is so rare that the few verified events are somewhat historical milestones. ... The problem is not usually panic, it is exactly the opposite, i.e., getting people to move."

I can see why we wrote a story; it's a very local disaster, despite its having happened in New York, and the appearance of the passengers' own stories in book form is worth noting. But I can't see running this story, except as a way of making the audience -- at least, the part that isn't yelling at the other part about whether northerners or southerners are more intolerant -- feel good about itself in general: We weren't there, but we would have done OK if we had been.

The story gives hypothesis-testing a bad name; it makes the whole process sound kinda woo-woo, as if there was no difference between good, testable ideas and angels-on-furry-wings-saved-the-plane ones. And it reinforces one of the core myths about disasters, thus not helping anybody except the people who make bad disaster movies.

And -- how many times do we have to say this? Cut it out with the "miracles" in headlines.

* Not to be picky or anything, but that's a remarkably insensitive choice of words when the topic is Southern heritage.
** This may be overextending, but isn't that sort of like what S.L.A. Marshall reported about infantry action?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Someone needs his or her head examined

Let us now thank the Newspaper of Record (OK, the Newspaper of Record Magazine) for making clear how nice "they" looks with a singular antecedent. First the setup:

There are two make-or-break factors that Jeff Ford can’t control as a vendor at the farmers’ market in Madison, Wis.: the weather and roller-coaster diet trends. His 12-year-old bakery, Cress Spring, survived Atkins, then experienced a sustained bump when Oprah urged a switch to whole grains.

Good so far? Now for the WTF sentence:

These days, Ford said with a shake of his ponytail, everyone thinks he’s allergic to wheat.

I had no problem figuring out what it meant, but I'm almost sure that my first reading wasn't what the author had in mind. Try it with some conveniently made-up facts:

The medical profession has a different story for him every few years, Jeff Ford said: first stress, then lack of exercise, then Toxic House Syndrome. These days, Ford said with a shake of his ponytail, everyone thinks he's allergic to wheat.

Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? Which is why I'd bet that what he said was "These days, everybody thinks they're allergic to wheat." There's a good chance that's what the writer wrote (writers inflict a ton of damage on themselves, but not usually of this flavor). And there's a pretty persuasive case (our friends at the Log make it often; here's a not-too-fire-breathing example) that -- grammatically -- that's what should have gone into print. Even if you insist the edited version is correct, it's hard to say it isn't, at best, confusing.

I'm still teaching the gospel of no "they" with "everyone," because until we have a clear signal from all the folks out there who will start hiring editors again someday, no one wants to disarm unilaterally. But that said -- someone at the Times Magazine needs their head examined.


What were they thinkin'?

“Stuff kept dropping,” the Tigers’ leftfielder said. “It was hittin’ me. I was wonderin’ what the hell it was. Sure enough, the roof was leaking.”

He really does? He alternates his -n and his -ng like that? And your sports columnist is quick enough to catch him? (And no, he doesn't just keep the "g" at the end of clauses; here's the same outfielder later in the piece: "
I just kept hoping it’d come out.")

Let's review those Rules of Writin' Dialect again:
1) Don't try to write in dialect unless your ear is really good
2) It isn't
3) Even if you're a columnist


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Stupid lede of the (still-young) month

Editors, consider yourselves empowered to shoot this one on sight:

Want to reduce your risk of skin cancer? Wear sun screen, of course. But two new studies suggest that choosing your relatives carefully could also be helpful.

No, dear friends at Reuters (and Fox and anyplace else that ran this astoundingly inept lede just as it arrived), the studies do not suggest this, because time travel and fratricide are not research methods. What is wrong with you people?


Another NYT sex change

There's a traffic jam in Flushing that's ... well, why would there be a traffic jam in Flushing, Paper of Record?

The “Sunday Routine” feature last Sunday, about Padma Lakshmi, the host of “Top Chef,” referred incorrectly to Ganesh, the Hindu deity whom Ms. Lakshmi honors during a monthly visit to the Ganesh Temple in Flushing, Queens. Ganesh is a god, not a goddess.

Yes, you can see how that might draw a crowd.

If someone else on the desk is using the house copy of Jane's Fighting Deities, you could always surf over to, oh,

In Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesh is the first son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.


Friday, October 09, 2009

Agenda much?

Despite less than one year in office and leading two wars, President Obama snatched the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, stunning the world one week after failing to win an Olympic bid for his adopted hometown.

Gee. Wonder why this story is already over 1,000 comments. (Oops, make that 1,200)

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

On the rise, and it's not alone

From the east comes a request to discuss the practice of trend inflation, illustrated by this graf from a Big Important Feature:

Statistics confirm that more people are seeking treatment for heroin and other opiate use in the town. Since January 2008, 44 Smithtown residents have been referred for treatment through Pederson Krag, a Suffolk-based rehab center, according to the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. In Suffolk, that is second only to Huntington, which has a much larger population.

That might be true -- "statistics" might indeed "confirm" the asserted increase. But if they do, we don't see them, and that leaves me (despite my normally sunny disposition and trusting nature) wondering if they actually do any such thing. They can't be that hard to find, and the basic rhetorical pattern of news -- general to specific, assertion to support -- creates a natural home for them. So the broad answer is yes. I expect to see the numbers and the percentages derived from them, and when they aren't there, I suspect someone is cooking a story.
That's a bad habit that can't be covered up by good intent -- partly because a pure heart is not a valid excuse for making stuff up, but perhaps more importantly because people with bad intent find cover when people with good intent break the rules. So here are a few more illustrations.
The firefighters who show up at your door would put it a bit more politely, but this year's fire prevention campaign is aimed solidly at your carelessness.

You've been bringing your distractions home, they say - tweeting and Facebooking and watching recorded TV shows - and you're not paying attention to the pot simmering on the stove.

Unattended kitchen fires have become the nation's largest cause of house fires. Five people in Charlotte have died from them and 42 injured in the last three years, according to the Charlotte Fire Department.

Ignoring the awful syntax in the last sentence, do you see how the third graf is drawing things together? You kids with your Twitters and Facebooks aren't just destroying the language, you're a fire hazard! See what you've done to the statistics?

If you thought kitchen fires were a little less novel than the story lets on, you're in good company.* Cooking is the top cause of residential fires, and "unattended cooking equipment" is the top cause of cooking fires, and those don't seem to be new observations. It's a good cause and a good idea on the part of the firefighters; why does it have to be dressed up as another Twitter phenomenon?

OK, fine; a little sleight of hand is OK in the consciousness-raising business? The cousins at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network seem to agree! Of course there's nothing in the story to substantiate the idea that "frustration" is "growing," but if we want to complain that it's bad form to make things up just because we want people to share our views, we've given that bit of high ground away.

Editors, you can start by holding up any story that says "statistics show" until -- well, until the statistics show up. Then let's see what we can do from there.
* We were inconvenienced by just such a fire two floors below us in Charlotte 20-some years ago, when You Kids ran up to the corner to get something else to go with dinner while dinner just sort of did its thing. No serious damage, but one very annoyed cat.**
** Woodchuck and Bernie's Aunt Leela. Our first kitteh.

Those missing middle terms

From America's Newspapers, a fine example of typing without writing:

A Jefferson City teenager fell asleep at the wheel yesterday on Highway 63, according to a Missouri State Highway Patrol report, resulting in major delays during afternoon traffic.

Darn teens! Always falling asleep and blocking traffic!

If you go for the second graf, you'll find out that he ran off the road. If you hang on for the second sentence of the second graf, you'll see that the vehicle overturned. And if you make it to the third graf, you'll note that he was seriously injured.

Recommended: Engage brain before placing fingers on keys.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Yeah, we noticed

What's worse than posting AP copy without reading it? Posting dummy text without reading it! And "Fake Headline" without reading the big type.

Well, actually, there is something worse than writing "Fake Headline," and that's writing fake headlines, as in the second example here. It's a very, very short step from "Myrtle Beach residents will be wowed to learn about this" to the sort of hed that wins you a permanent spot in the Com3210 Headline Hall of Fame.

This isn't necessarily a cred- ibility problem. But it's certainly hard to fix the things that are credibility problems when everyone's rolling around on the floor laughing at your clue problems.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Question-beggar's banquet

This isn't just a Stupid Question; it's a particular kind of Stupid Question, and it combines with other bits of misdirection to make for an amazingly uninformative hed.

First off, is it a "union" mystery or a "Union" mystery? If you're from that neck of the woods (and familiar with the general anti-labor sentiment), you probably have a good chance of guessing "Union," but the proper name isn't much help. There's a Union County (as well as a town of Union) in each of the two leading Carolinas. So the best you can start with is that there's a mystery, and it's probably in one of several places called Union.

Now to the Stupid Question itself. It's different, but not "ungrammatical." If you want to know the identity of the former owner-operator of the human skeleton on your property, you'd more likely ask "Whose bones are these?" "Human bones are whose?" is an echo question, often used to clarify something that's just been said. As Huddleston and Pullum put it, you might do this because you simply didn't hear the previous statement or because you couldn't believe it: "because its content is surprising or remarkable in such a way that I want to verify whether you did in fact say, or mean to say, what I apparently heard."

The bones on my farm are Jimmy Hoffa's.
The bones on your farm are whose?

We're not being led up a garden path, but through officialese and second-cycling, we're led all around the farm -- or as the second graf puts it, the "farm property" -- before we find out anything interesting:

Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey says more investigation is needed before authorities can determine the identity of the person whose bones were discovered Saturday by a young hunter.

If you follow the basic rule of writing news heds -- go for independent clauses, not relative clauses -- you get a lot of boring heds, like "Sheriff: More investigation needed," before you get to the thing you don't know: "Human bones found in Union County."

I suppose it's possible to write a worse hed, but why try?

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Blossom, dearie

This is a particularly British crash blossom, partly because of the noun pileup and partly because British hed writers are more liberal at extending terms like "the flood stranded." (I don't think "the flood dead" would raise an eyebrow on US desks, but "the flood stranded"? Doubtful.)

So what's your first reading, news consumers? Hidden expletive ("there is a race to ....") or passive ("the race has been ...")?


Annals of 'when'

The pastor of a North Tryon Street church received a gruesome surprise when he found a dead man in the parking lot.

Don't think so. He might have received a gruesome surprise when he looked at the parking lot, but getting the surprise when he finds the body -- that's a little too Publishers Clearing House for me.

Of course, since you're writing a first-cycle story for the Web anyway, you could just leave out the surprise and get to the point: Pastor finds body in parking lot!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Expression is the need of my soul

We went into the study later than usual the other night, and discovered the cats with InDesign open on the desktop. They did not see us, and we watched them for a while. The front page was actually in very good shape, given how hard it is to operate a mouse without opposable thumbs. They had the Tigers as a centerpiece and were ledeing with the Middle East.* But they were still arguing about the editorial, so I showed them one that a dog wrote for one of America's Newspapers:

Annie Poo Robinson, guest column: Putting a bite on the news
("You're not going to try writing a whole post in my voice, are you?" asked Bernie. "Because I am so peeing on your laptop two or three times tonight if you do. As soon as you go to sleep." Woodchuck was still working on the jump page and didn't look up.)

My name is Annie Poo.
Five years ago I arrived at Fuzzy Friends Rescue as a 6-week-old red poodle puppy weighing two pounds. I was as skinny as uncooked angel hair pasta, I barely knew that newspapers were for housebreaking, and I was just eager to become someone’s little love.

I was lucky. Someone I know as Miss Bow Wow took me home and introduced me to my prospective daddy. ("If you start calling Language Czarina 'Miss Bow Wow,' can we sell tickets? To, like, you sliding down the wall with a knife in your back?") It was love at first sight.

Daily, I sit in queenly fashion up in my daddy’s downtown Waco office building, greeting visitors with barks. I enjoy watching them dance about the room as I nip merrily at their shoes or attack their pants legs. That includes the postman, whom I attack as if I were a Doberman.

Lately, though, I’ve gotten to know the Tribune-Herald, the hometown newspaper that my daddy purchased this summer. ("Hey, why don't you buy a newspaper? I'll gnaw on the laboring classes, and Dreamsicle there can write the columns.") It’s a bustling place, full of vivid personalities and rich talents, all serving in different ways as — dare I say it? — the watchdogs of this community.

That’s something a pooch like me can respect and admire.

Call me crazy, but the Trib building spurs my extra-sensory qualities. (Woodchuck was puzzled. "Do dogs have extra-sensory qualities?" "Yeah, sorta. In lieu of 'clues'.") There are days when I see spirits of yesteryear roaming the place. One day I saw Harlon and Clara Fentress studying the new Trib, smiling upon seeing “In God We Trust” on the masthead of what used to be their newspaper. ("Why does that make them smile?" "I don't know. Maybe they think it makes the newspaper into a muneez.")

There was the spirit of Jinx Tucker, typing football stories on the old linotype back in the Trib museum. ("The sports editor's typing a gamer into a Linotype? That's one dumb ghost. Even for a sports ghost." "Well, consider the source.")

...But there’s also a lot of the here and now in the Trib newsroom, bustling with those who consist of flesh, blood and a passion for news. ... As hard-working as the Trib news staff is, a sense of down-home camaraderie pervades. Great smells waft through this newsroom after hard-hitting investigative reporter Cindy Culp drops off, for her colleagues, homemade cookies and cakes, or Tim Woods brings by a whole box of barbecue from Vitek’s or Mama & Papa B’s. ("Does that Dan Brown guy write for newspapers too?")

My most fun time is going to editorial board meetings each morning with publisher Dan Savage, editor Carlos Sanchez, senior editor Bill Whitaker and my daddy’s son, Gordon, president of Robinson Media and the one who often shows street smarts. (There's a special contribution insurance salesmen can bring to journalism!)

Animated doesn’t begin to describe these meetings. The fur flies. And, yes, my daddy gets carried away, more than anyone else, vigorously arguing some obscure point on one issue or another with his colleagues. I’ve seen him stomp on the floor and gesture wildly while telling a story that he only hopes and prays illustrates his point. (This really had the cats' attention, because nobody ever stomps on the floor and gestures wildly around here. Freedom of stomping around the boardroom is guaranteed to those who own one.)

During intense debate on CIA interrogation techniques, Mr. Savage actually challenged my daddy to get himself water-boarded. ("Is that something poodles do?" "No, that's got to be something insurance salesmen do. It's why we're all the time hiring more of them to do Middle East policy.")

Sometimes, my canine instincts bristle and I want to bite one of those arguing with my daddy, but he’s trained me better. Besides, he says, they might bite back. ("Aw, yeah! Prisoner without a name, THWACK! Poodle without a face!" "Bernie, no! It's not Annie Poo's fault! It's the Stockholm syndrome! She can't help it!")

Daddy says we have a good newspaper getting better by the day, and that the news media world is watching our “Waco Experiment” to see if former insurance salesmen like my daddy and Gordon; veteran publishers like Dan Savage; and a team of dedicated professionals can reverse a sad trend in the daily newspaper business. (Yes, because the "news media world" is so completely flummoxed by the idea that amateurs would buy their way into journalism with ... oh, you know, money, that we can't imagine someone trying it in the sunny uplands of 2009. Blew that one past us while we were looking for the breaking ball outside, Space Family Robinson!)

This much I know. If I have to wet on a newspaper nowadays, I think twice about doing it on the Trib. Daddy wouldn’t be happy. ("Hey, kid? Poodle? Word from the wise. If it's between the sofa and the Trib, pee on the Trib. Every time.")

The cats are trying to figure out what goes in the skybox and how to handle the playoff on Tuesday. I wish them luck. I mean, really. Nobody ever said journalism was going to be easy.

* Daddy's kitties!


Friday, October 02, 2009

Guilty, guilty, guilty!

It's the bluntest argument we have against throwing the entire copydesk overboard, and I don't want it to happen, but -- if you keep on declaring people guilty of stuff they haven't been convicted of (let alone charged with), eventually you're going to hit somebody who isn't guilty. Then you will be sued for "libel," and you will lose, and quite honestly you will not deserve a lot of sympathy.

That's what you risk when you say the people who were caught are the "robbers" (and why every journalism course you ever took, and every grizzled old editor who ever hired you, told you not to do that sort of stuff). If you're lucky, you'll just end up looking like a shill.

It takes about an extra eighteenth of a second to do cop heds right. You can protect your checkbook, and you might be protecting some actually innocent person's reputation as well. Give it a try sometime.