Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dewey Defeats Truman?

Contrasting headlines one day apart

Two of the oldest sayings in journalism--"Never apologize, never explain" and "If your mother says she loves you, verify it"--spring to mind with today's mea culpa edition of the Daily Hampshire Gazette, although they still exude the former after woefully violating the latter.

And since I'm citing journalistic cliches let me throw in, "Readers soon forget who got it first, but will long remember who got it wrong."

I'm referring to a front page article yesterday saying a car dealership "Appears to have closed" simply because they were not open on a Sunday, the (65-year-old) owner had not responded to a Facebook message request for an interview, an empty car lot, and non functioning website and phones.

Sure, a fair amount of circumstantial evidence but no direct corroboration from the owner, an employee or disgruntled customer, all of which would be fairly easy to acquire--especially if they waiting until Monday when the business opened up to start the workweek.

A few months back the Daily Hampshire Gazette failed to publish a morning edition because their $10 million dollar Italian four-color process printing press malfunctioned. How would they have liked it if the blogosphere jumped to the conclusion that they had apparently gone out of business?

Which--to be perfectly honest--was my initial reaction when I failed to find my Gazette aside the Springfield Republican early on a Tuesday morning.

I can excuse getting lazy over verification for a who cares kind of article appearing on the back pages which few folks bother to read; but the front page is sacred, demanding adherence to the fundamental rules of journalism.

Now if it had been one of those damn blogs...


flynnbr said...

Well said and well written.

Anonymous said...

They're no longer a Chevy dealer. Now they're no longer a VW dealer. Just call it next month's news today.

Anonymous said...

Empty lot? Sounds like a thriving business to me.

Max Hartshorne said...

I sent that tip over to the editors at the Gazette thinking someone would check into it. I was struck by seeing those bicycles in the auto showroom. really. But I wasn't thinking it would run as a news story--yet. I was told by a friend at a local radio station they were done...but I didn't think my tip would be news.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, that's the funny thing Max, if you had done a blogpost for the Gazette saying they were dead, some editor would have demanded solid proof.

I had it from a most reliable source (an employee who had been there forever) but still waited a month until the "For Sale" sign appeared in the front window before I reported the impending demise of Pleasant Street Theater Video.

The Gazette followed up a few days later with a front page story.

I Wonder how many Gazette editors and reporters drove right by that sign without noticing.