Thursday, 11 November 2010

When splashes go bad...

We've all been there.

You're running the newsdesk, an hour before deadline, and the splash falls through.

You've sold it to the editor, who has been touting it around his editor chums (I presume they call each other 'chums'? I think they should), telling them the next day's paper will sweep the board at next year's awards dos.

Then, almost in slow motion, you notice the reporter writing it is speaking to you.

The words come out slowly, deeply... And it's gone.

You compose yourself, try not to shout at them too loudly for waiting a week before actually doing any work on the story, then pop and see the editor.

This goes well, as you assure him you have an equally brilliant story as a back up, which of course, you don't.

A quick check with the court reporters proves fruitless, your 'banker' reporter has nothing, even the geeky bloke in the corner who only does FoI stories draws a blank.

Okay, compose yourself, there's a planning agenda on the desk. Yes, a planning agenda! Good old-fashioned reporting.

Yes, there has to be something in the planning agenda for God's sake...

And there is. Sort of.

Oh dear.

Imagine the editor's face when you go to him with this? You've oversold it, you know that, but you can make it work, you can...

But sometimes, you just can't.

The above story is a woeful tale. Planning application for a nursery. That's it. No hidden agenda. It's not a nursery for criminally-insane toddlers or anything like that.

No, it's just a nursery.

Quite how it has turned in to a honey trap for paedophiles is never actually explained, until mum-of-two Natalie Rooney steps in to the fray...

“We think there will be traffic problems because of all the parents dropping off and picking up their children.

“We think there will be noise problems because the children will be playing outdoors. We are also worried that paedophiles will be attracted to the area to be close to the nursery.”

Okay... She is worried that paedophiles will move in to the area to be close to the nursery.


Not only should the reporter have dismissed this immediately, actually, reporter Michael Purton should have 'mmm'-ed and 'aahhh'-ed in an agreeable tone before putting down the phone and pissing himself, but when the desk got this copy, they should have sorted it.

And the subs, surely the subs would not let such a thing through?

Wrong again.

All round, this is really not a ringing endorsement of the quality of reporting at News Shopper.

It;s lazy, it's desperate, and while I don't doubt it's probably the most-read edition for many years, it is NOT the way editors should be tempting in readers.

Sensationalism of the worst kind, done badly (what is going on with that headline?), and a copy of this should be held up at every single meeting to discuss why newspapers are a. hated and b. why sales are falling through the floor.

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