It’s a fascinating story: human bones discovered in the crawlspace of an old house — bones that may be tied to the disappearance of a woman more than 70 years ago. And on top of everything is a plot element that makes every tale more intriguing: Nazi Germany.
Yes, quite a story. Too bad it wasn’t true.
Could be human, right? From my collection of things I probably don’t need.
Area media this week went apesh*t over the macabre discovery of these “human remains” in East Greenbush – until it was revealed Thursday that they were deer bones, not human. Ooops.
Yes, the cops bear much of the responsibility here. They were the ones who declared the bones to be human. They also cited a 1938 document as a key bit of evidence, possibly linking the bones to the disappearance of a woman whose husband later returned to his native Germany. That document was a school report written by a 9th grader.
This leaves a few questions, like where is the healthy skepticism we count on from reporters and editors? Did no one bother to ask the police about the process for identifying bones? And seriously, a 9th grader’s school report? Really?
To their credit, the Times Union did a great job of tracking down details about the real German family who returned home before the war — but not before they swallowed the whole story, hook, line and sinker.
Oh, yes: one of the “clues” police found near the bones was woman’s shoe. Maybe someone could do a story on why a deer would be wearing a shoe. That would be more interesting.
Under what sort of crazy business model do you give away your product and expect to make any money?
How about in local tv and radio.
At a time when newspapers are struggling to survive, broadcasters continue to chug along. No, they don’t make the kind of cash they once did, back in the heady days before cable and the internet, but TV has adjusted to the new economics. And just like in the past, they’re profitable. How? They have a product that people like — and advertisers know that TV and radio spots are still the most effective way to reach their customers.
I don’t expect free content. For example, I gladly shell out money for my digital subscription to the NY Times. In return I get more news than I can possibly read in a single day. So, how much would I be willing to pay for a paper like the Times Union? Compared to what the New York Times provides? I’d say it’s worth about $.25 a week.
One dollar a month may sound harsh, but if you don’t agree, take a hard look at what you get every day. A handful of local stories and… what? Goofy snapshot photo galleries? Blogs? I’m not going to pay for that stuff.
In short, if you want my money, you’d better start providing more content. A lot more.
My former boss at WNYT, Tom Raponi, was in the news this week!
The TV station he runs, KTVU, is the one that made the ridiculous Asiana pilot name blunder. Now they’re trying to erase their mistake by forcing YouTube to remove the video of his anchors announcing the fake — and mildly racist — names of the flight crew. Raponi told TV Spy:
“The accidental mistake we made was insensitive and offensive. By now, most people have seen it. At this point, continuing to show the video is also insensitive and offensive, especially to the many in our Asian community who were offended. Consistent with our apology, we are carrying through on our responsibility to minimize the thoughtless repetition of the video by others.”
Thanks to Tom Raponi for protecting us from insensitive and offensive content — but it seems the horse is already far away from the barn:
What now? KTVU has fired everyone involved. This is too bad, because Raponi had been very happy with the station’s coverage — before all that falsely confirmed fake racist Asian name stuff. Oh, well. You try running a TV station.
When you say O. Henry, most people think of the “The Gift of the Magi,” but my favorite short story by O. Henry, AKA William Sydney Porter, was always “The Cop and the Anthem.”
In that story, Soapy, a hapless hobo tramping around New York City, is desperate to be arrested so he can spend winter’s coldest days in jail. But Soapy isn’t even very good at breaking the law — and you can read the rest here.
A modern day Soapy had no such trouble in Troy this week; police arrested one Jamaine Makepeace who they say broke windows at the Rensselaer County Clerk’s office in a bid to be collared by the cops. Why? To go somewhere warm. According to a police spokesman:
“He told us he figured he would do enough damage to get a year in jail. He told us that he was tired of being on the streets and begging food from people.”
Mr. Makepeace got his wish and is currently being held in Rensselaer County Jail without bail.
Homelessness is complicated and nothing I say about it will be anything less than trite — but those who scoff at the idea of helping the most troubled among us should take note, even as you mock what President Obama had to say on Monday.
It’s a sad story, but at least this guy, like Soapy, will be safe and warm for a little while.
Yes, it’s Grinch season, that time when unimaginative reporters overuse the Grinch metaphor. Experienced scribes know that a good story needs a bad guy, and this time of year labeling someone “Grinch” is a handy tag.
Those are five examples. I could give you five-hundred.
The problem with this is that like many real-life stories, the Grinch tale is about something more complicated than simply an evildoer stealing all the Christmas stuff — but when you start in with all those other things, those inconvenient truths, you begin to lose what makes your story powerful: the bad guy.
A really good reporter will go out and build his case against his story’s antagonist. Maybe talk to the Grinch’s angry ex-landlord or interview his former spouse and disgruntled children. Make the Grinch looks like a real dirtbag. And then — the truth doesn’t much matter, does it?
The dogs are enjoying the new iPad Mini we have in the house because the touch screen makes it’s easy for them to navigate. They never got the knack of using a mouse; that’s more of a cat thing.
Being newshounds, they love searching for stories about dogs and reading them to me when I have my morning coffee. Type “dogs” into Google’s news search and you get hundreds of results, so they never run out of material.
“Listen to this one,” announced Scarlett. “The Coast Guard ended a search Monday for a teenager whose parents were killed after they plunged into the powerful surf in a nightmarish chain of events that started when their son tried to save the family dog from drowning.”
Maddy ran in from the other room. “Holy crap!”
“Wait, there’s more.” She continued. “Eureka residents Mary Elena Scott, 57, and Howard Gregory Kuljian, 54, both drowned Saturday. The boy, Gregory James Kuljian, is presumed dead. Ten-foot waves had pulled the dog into the ocean as it ran to retrieve a stick at Big Lagoon, about 300 miles north of San Francisco.”
Thanks for that cheery little tidbit. “Geez… what a terrible story. Isn’t there any good dog news this morning.”
She was waiting for this. “Wait! This story actually has a happy ending, right here in the last line: ‘The dog returned to shore.’”
If I ever get to teach a class on public relations — to stand in front of people and talk about what works and what does not — I will include this rule in my lessons: Don’t ever, ever, ever, ever, ever block a camera with your hand.
That’s what Albany “International” Airport’s Doug Myers did when he confronted a pair of Infowars.com activists leafleting — and shooting video of it — at the airport. His hand job is at 1:48 in.
When I used to sit and watch countless hours of boring raw news footage, nothing made my day like the hand in front of the camera. It’s a golden moment, one that would literally send me to my feet dancing around the room — and when someone did it it was guaranteed to appear in a news promo.
While we’re at it, one other rule: Keep cool, smile, and don’t raise your voice. Myers managed to do none of these things, instead giving the activists exactly what they wanted: an angry authority figure who was losing his sh*t. Nice work.
Oh, a third rule: when things go wrong, don’t try to fix them by lying in your subsequent statement:
“On Nov. 23, we asked two individuals to move away from the escalator area of the terminal where they were distributing fliers. Our concern — as it always is — was for the safety of the passengers and the public who were in the airport.”
Anybody who watched the video knows that this wasn’t about being near the escalator — but to their credit, the airport backed off the absurd “million dollars of insurance” demand made by Myers:
“Filing a simple form and providing advance notice of their arrival are all that is required. We would welcome them back to the airport to distribute their information.”