Friday, May 3, 2013

Making The Sausage

I did an interview yesterday with a nice young man from the UMass Journo program for his final paper -- specifically involving my favorite course, Journalism Ethics.

The easy question concerned whether I ever hesitate publishing names and addresses of perps arrested for bad behavior.  Well, no. 

But as usual it's the gray area questions that make you think.  Such as: do I give unfair out-of-proportion weight to one story or series of stories?  That I get accused of all the time.  Again talking Party Houses, DUI, and in general, rowdy student behavior. 

As of this morning, over 6 years, I've published 2,539 posts.  I did not even start my popular "Party House of The Weekend" series until November, 2010 and I have published under 200 of those, or less than 10%.

Or as a professional flack would say, "90% of Larry's stories do not concern rowdy student party houses."

My DUI Dishonor Role started 18 months ago, so there have been only around 30 of those posts, and only about half the "winners" are students.  So once again a very tiny percentage of overall articles.

And the widget on my main page that calculates my most "popular posts" of all time show 6 out of 10 are not related to rowdy student behavior. Thus I never feel pressured to come up with stories to fit that preordained narrative.

These days I have three levels of response to a story:  Level one is no more than a tweet.  Something I hear on the scanner or a quick photo of something that is borderline interesting, but not worthy of much more than 140 characters (but a photo is still worth 1,000 words).

Level 2 is it's worth more than a tweet, so it gets posted to my Facebook page (always a photo) as well.

And Level 3 is something that has risen to the level of posting here on the blog with a link (and intro headline) crossposted on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.  But yes, I occasionally have a slow news day where something whimsical still gets Level 3 treatment.

"Electric Flurry" photo tweeted last night around 10:00 PM

Last night, normally a Level 2 story, is a good example.  I expected the concert at the Mullins Center to be more of a problem than it turned out to be.  At 10:00 PM I tweeted a photo of the concert in progress with the report that AFD had already transported one to the hospital.

And then, the next morning (today) I posted on Facebook another photo from later in the concert when foam was being sprayed on concertgoers with the report that the event actually went quite well and the crowd was very well behaved.

Electric Flurry follow up photo posted to Facebook this AM

So sure, if it had been the disaster like some of the previous techno concerts I would have used a heavier Level 3 response.

And railed against the Mullins Center, UMass and clueless parents over youthful patrons tying up emergency responders due to their irresponsible activity, which I find unacceptable.

Now, however, the Mullins Center "Electric Flurry" concert has just risen to a Level 3 story anyway.   

And yes, today has been a slow news day ... so far.


Tony said...

IMO, you're not under any obligation to report anything other than what you personally feel is newsworthy. Anyone paying you $0 or less to report anything other than that should feel the same way.

Tom said...

True. When people ask me what my blog is about I always answer, "Whatever interests me that day."

Larry Kelley said...

And we don't have to worry about an editor giving the okay for a story, or making room in the paper for a timely publication.

Sasha said...

yeah! blogging's awesome for people who aren't good enough to be real journalists.

Larry Kelley said...

Capitalize much?

Anonymous said...

So I'm guessing there's a mini campaign going on accusing Larry daily of not being good enough. I wonder if the accusers happen to have jobs and families.

Anonymous said...

What does that have to do with anything, whether people have jobs and families.

Larry Kelley said...

It's called "being responsible" (usually), and it makes "being irresponsible" a lot easier to spot.

Anonymous said...

Exactly, Larry. Interesting that he couldn't parse the meaning. It would be almost impossible to use shorter words.

Larry gives us an opportunity to employ critical thinking. That does not mean being critical of him, but it can. You are given the opportunity to think critically about the subject matter of his reporting.

It seems odd to have to tell you this, Children, but this is not a pissing contest about accomplishments.

So what do you think about antisocial behavior (whether it's from geezers or students)? Is it o.k. for drunks to be driving in the city where your parents live, possibly mowing them down as they cross the street? Is it o.k. to urinate on your grandma's lawn because you didn't think to leave the bathroom before you left the bar? And how about dropping the F bomb in the Diner when your sister and her kids are there -- is that o.k. with you?

Anonymous said...

But Larry does NOT have a job. Guess, on your criteria, that makes him irresponsible. I have BOTH a job and a family.

Larry Kelley said...

And you no doubt excel at BOTH.

(Now where did I put my sarcasm font?)

Anonymous said...

At least I am responsible enough to have a job which seems to be the gold standard here. At least according to CAN 7:39. And I do excel at both.

Larry Kelley said...

Actually Mass has a lower unemployment rate than the federal standard and Amherst -- because of our ever so monstrous UMass -- has a much lower average than the state.

Anonymous said...

I would expect nothing less from Amherst.

Larry Kelley said...

2nd "Best small town in America."

And when you're #2, you try harder.