Friday, November 26, 2010
Reteaching an old dog...
For my new feature "Party house of the weekend," I attend the press briefing at Amherst Police Station around 9:00 AM on Monday morning, which until now pretty much consisted of only one reporter, Scott Merzbach from the Daily Hampshire Gazette; convenient enough for me, as I drop off my 3-year-old at the Spring Street Preschool 100 yards away at 8:45 AM.
Thus I had the story of the $3,900 scam suffered by the greatest little pizza shop on the planet, Antonio's, at the same time as Mr. Merzbach.
And like a lot of things concerning Amherst, I have a bit of a personal connection. Out of all the business owners I have known and called friend over the past 30 years none were better than original founder Bruno Matarazzo, may he rest in peace.
And of course I can beat the Gazette by a few hours--even on a really bad day. But I also had what I was looking for: a "party house" with 500 "guests", three tenants arrested for bad behavior and ticketed for violating the newly-escalated-in-price Noise and Nuisance town bylaws to the tune of $1,800 total.
The overwhelming plus side of a blog is the speed of publishing, downside is you only have a Front Page. What's a news blogger to do?
I drove from the Police Station to the party house about a mile down the road for a quick photo. Antonio's would have been closer by half. The loss to Antonio's was $3,900--a hell of a lot for sure, but their markup has got to be at least 50% so it was really less than $2,000. Thus roughly the same economic impact as the $1,800 in fines handed out to three denizens of the party/nuisance house.
So I went with the party house story. The Gazette online went with both a few hours later and the next day's print edition carried a slightly more fleshed out article about the pizza rip off (with better placement than the party house article), including an interview with the owner.
The Daily Collegian had followed up quickly online (getting an important fact wrong), then the Springfield Republican, local TV stations and then the motherload: the AP National wire.
Even this morning my friends at the Springfield Republican published an editorial about the affair. As of now over 200 news outlets have picked up the story. Yikes!
So don't worry too much about Antonio's losing $3,900. This amount of press is priceless in an advertising sort of way.
And for me, I relearned an old lesson from my 'News Reporting and Writing' class almost exactly 25 years ago: "Dog bites man, not a story; man bite dog, now that's a story."
Only in Amherst would an out-of-control, alcohol-fueled party of 500 collage-aged kids packed in a one-bedroom house resulting in 3 arrests (one charged with possession of a stun gun) and $1,800 in fines be considered routine.