Sunday, April 15, 2007

We're getting mixed messages here, guys

Good indicators that a news article is thinly sourced:
  • The headline uses the passive voice.
  • The thrust of the article relies on anonymous sources
  • The writer qualifies the second sentence with the word "purportedly."
  • A later sentence begins: "It was not confirmed how well..."
  • An editorial about the story states "it is not clear how such an action would work."
The Voice went 5-for-5 this week in a follow-up to the Town Crier impression it did two weeks ago, once again attacking the work furlough inmates for their ill-mannered rambunctiousness. At least this time we are given more information about the source of these allegations -- they seem to be little old ladies who don't very much like being around poor people outside of church.

In a schizophrenic editorial, the paper sympathizes with these anonymous sources but defends the program. This is all wrong. If you really want to be the Town Crier, you don't print things in the news section that readers might plausibly interpret to conflict with the opinion of the editorial. Otherwise, what's the point of running a local paper?

To be fair, it does take a certain level of Town Crier-ness to refer to a parking garage as "gorgeous" in a headline. That is how you do cheerleading right -- shamelessly.

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