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Oh, AP. Oh AP, AP, AP. - EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD!

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December 6th, 2007


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08:40 am - Oh, AP. Oh AP, AP, AP.
Remember when we could count on the Associated Press to write articles on even the worst of calamities with a non-sensationalistic bent? Remember when they had their own style guide? Remember those halcyon days of yesteryear? Yeah, well, you can go pack all your happy memories up and put 'em in the same place you put the pet rock, Brutalist architecture and chlorophyl toothpaste. I know this is an isolated incident, but this will give you some idea of what passes for quality control around there nowadays. Someone decided to get a little poetic (and horribly at that) in their account of the mall shootings in Omaha:
Hawkins carried out his shooting spree from the third floor of the Westroads Mall, the bullets from his rifle cutting through the sound of Christmas music as he terrorized shoppers and employees.
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IT'S THIS MUSIC! HE HATES THIS MUSIC!
STAY AWAY FROM THE MUSIC!

(9 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:beth47
Date:December 6th, 2007 02:47 pm (UTC)
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(this happened about 45 minutes away from me, so the local news had a field day.)

well, sheesh.

if only they had known it was the music.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:December 6th, 2007 03:20 pm (UTC)
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Feliz Navidad will do that to a person.
[User Picture]
From:gwynethfar
Date:December 6th, 2007 05:46 pm (UTC)
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The shooting was a terrible, terrible tragedy. And the AP made it sound almost comical.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:December 6th, 2007 08:03 pm (UTC)
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Tragedy porn has progressed far, far, far from simply "if it bleeds, it leads." And the horrible attempt at melodrama turned comic just makes everything worse.

I don't see why people feel the need to watch total strangers grieve for real. Has the line between fiction and real life been that blurred?
From:zhym
Date:December 6th, 2007 10:08 pm (UTC)
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I'm guessing the AP picked that up from the Omaha paper. Smaller-town papers (like the one in my hometown, KC) seem prone to purple prose where it doesn't belong. You can often tell when a KC Star article is homegrown instead of reprinted from the wire because it will start with something like, "Shoppers dropped their treasures in a rush to protect themselves and their loved ones." I made that up, but compare it to Reuters' actual lead: "A 19-year-old man killed eight people and then himself with a rifle at a busy mall in Omaha on Wednesday."

I think it's a disease common to the cub reporter: mistaking the news article for a novel.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:December 6th, 2007 10:40 pm (UTC)
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I think all reporters, upon receiving their degrees in Journalism, should receive a nice sign for their office that reads "YOU ARE NOT TRUMAN CAPOTE."
(Deleted comment)
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From:ron_newman
Date:December 7th, 2007 12:26 am (UTC)
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my youngest daughter's friend dated the shooter

OMG. how is she doing today?
[User Picture]
From:redtheblue
Date:December 7th, 2007 03:51 am (UTC)
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Good grief. There are no excuses for sexing up something like that, especially when it's just the nut graph! Why get creative there? The rest of the story is all quotes and text lifted straight from police press releases.

If this were a community reaction story, it would be different. But the only mention of the community is here, at the end of a paragraph about something else: "Churches in the area were setting up vigils to pray for survivors and remember the dead." That's where the real emotion is and where it would be sensible to report on it. Obviously the reporter (Oskar Garcia, Nebraska bureau writer currently assigned to state news) had other things on his mind, probably because he's assigned to Nebraska and this is his time to shine.
From:zhym
Date:December 7th, 2007 05:40 am (UTC)
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Yeah, what that kind of line really says is, "Hot dang, all this time stuck in Nebraska is finally gonna pay off -- come to papa, Pulitzer!"

That, and I think it's easier for more seasoned national reporters to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the event. A good reporter has to shrug off some of the "holy crap" personal emotional impact and report the facts, at least in the first story.

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