Friday, November 03, 2017

Why read the story?

With a hed like that, you may well ask, why bother to read the story? Well, since it's Fox, one answer might be: To see how much of it is true! Should we start with the lede?

A former University of North Carolina student who reportedly stripped down, yelled "Hail Satan!" and tried to blow up the college's "Tree of Knowledge," ended up instead burning a professor who tried to extinguish the flames howling from the Davie Poplar, cops said. 

If you're a bit confused, for God's sake don't read the cutline:

A University of North Carolina Chapel Hill professor was burned after he tried to blow up the college's "Tree of Knowledge" on Thrusday. 

Amid from the spelling, the random commas and the howling flames, one point for the lede: the suspect is neither a professor or a student, but a "former student." A few points off, in that the cops don't appear to have said anything about nudity or Satan-hailing. "Eyewitnesses" do appear to have described those happenings to WTVD, though the state capital daily is circumspect with its video: "The voice of a man shouting 'Hail Satan' can be heard." But let's get back to Fox:

Student Name, a student at the college, said he witnessed the suspect near the tree before the fire started.

"I was standing right there," Name said. "It burnt like alcohol or lighter fluid. So it was just there and gone really fast and he backed up and fell to the ground and just had some first- and second-degree burns."

This also appears to come from the TV station's account, though it seems pretty un-Fox-like to have omitted the sentence that precedes the quote, in which the student saw the suspect  "sitting under the tree moments before the fire started, adding that the suspect starting skipping away saying, 'Yes, yes, yes' once flames were present." Either way, the suspect seems to be the only available "he" in that clause to have suffered the burns, even though that's how the professor* describes his own injuries. (One wonders if Fox's "severe burns" or the N&O's "minor burns" is farther from the mark, in that the professor expects to be hospitalized over the weekend.)

How else is Fox adding to the sum of human knowledge?

... Carrboro police were discharged to the school to investigate a suspicious vehicle. A bomb squad and robot were deployed but found nothing in the car.

Look. If you were a postcard from Chapel Hill, you would probably show something along the axis from the Old Well past the Davie Poplar to McCorkle Place.** You wouldn't show something from Carrboro, because that's the town next door to Chapel Hill. Why were the Carrboro cops "discharged" to the middle of the old part of campus? Let's ask the newspaper:

UNC police contacted Carrboro police shortly after responding to the Davie Poplar fire Thursday to alert them to a possible bomb in a car in a public parking lot on West Weaver Street.

Read more here:

The suspect having left his car in Carrboro, then, that's where the cops went.

No one's covered much in journalistic glory over this one, but Fox stands out for not letting other people's facts get in the way of a good story. Indeed, it hardly seems to let the facts get in the way of anything.

* Who, if you don't read the accompanying stories, seems to be a really good character, and certainly not deserving of the cutline's random Foxness.
** In case you're wondering, Google Maps reports that it can't find Silent Sam; it has no problem with the Old Well, Old East, the Davie Poplar or the Bell Tower and only a little with the Francis M. Owen Jr. Memorial Blood Research Laboratory.

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