Monday, January 30, 2006

Attn: This Story Is Crap

On the front page of the Sun-Sentinel’s always daring Community News section Sunday, a story by staff writer C. Ron Allen leads this way:

“When Victor Fortune failed the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and then eighth grade, he didn’t get reclusive or bitter, his teachers said.
Instead, he channeled his efforts to helping his classmates who needed help in mathematics.
“I already had the class, I am learning the same thing I learned last year so I felt I should help someone to improve instead of getting mad,” the 13-year-old West Pine Middle School student said.”

Aren’t you glad the little feller helped classmates who needed help? The story then goes on to laud little Victor as one of the Sentinel’s “Kids of Character,” which is tied to the Broward school board’s character education program. Unfortunately for Fortune (and the Sentinel), a correction ran in the very same newspaper: “Victor Fortune passed the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and was promoted to the eighth grade.”

There are two things extraordinary about this correction. First, it is the first pre-emptive correction I can remember. It appears on page 2A in the very same newspaper in which the mistake was made. Why? Because the Sentinel pre-publishes the Community News section before it prints the rest of the paper. In fact, the same bad information ran in a promotional box in Friday’s newspaper (so it was actually a double-correction, too).

The second unique aspect of the correction is that the entire story is based on the false premise that little Fortune is a great tyke because he didn’t let failure keep him from being a model student. Allen quotes the student, two of his teachers, and a school resource officer. The resource officer actually references the (bogus) fact that Fortune was held back. What the hell is going on here? Could it be that the kid of character duped the newspaper? Or was it all based on some colossal assumption by the reporter?

And, as you can see by the link above, the bogus story is still on the website. The Pulp is on the case. But while we’re on the Community News section, let’s look at the two other stories on Sunday’s front. The lead story is headlined: “Report unusual activity.” Okay. But what exactly is unusual activity? I mean, I have a neighbor who bleaches his sidewalk every week. That’s pretty weird. Should I report him?

Here’s how Nicole T. Lesson ledes her article.
“Crime prevention starts with you.
“Residents need to know what is suspicious activity and how to report it to police.”

So pray tell, what is suspicious activity?
“[Plantation Police Officer Bob] Wilkins says that if something piques your curiosity, it could be a suspicious incident.”
“If it doesn’t look right, it’s time to call the police,” Lesson adds later.

Still confused. What we need, of course, is a Tips Box. And the Sentinel didn’t let us down. In a box on page 2 is a box with the question that haunts us still: “What Is Suspicious?”

Answer No. 1: “Anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or seems out of place.”
That guy Joe in the office does that to me all the time. Finally I know what to do. Call the cops on his ass.

Another suspicious thing: “A loiterer who doesn’t belong in the area.”
That’d be Uncle Ray. He comes around uninvited all the time, wanting to eat our food and drink our beer. Now the jail can feed him.

Then the wise box tells us to be suspicious of “Someone carrying a weapon.”
Oh man, so that guy who was running through the neighborhood last week with a Glock in his hand was suspicious? If only I had known.

Then, and I’m not kidding, the Sentinel instructs us to beware of people in your neighborhood who might be carrying something that is stolen, “such as an electronic device.”
I can hear it now.
“Maude, there’s a feller with one of them fancy new cell phones walking down the street. Call the police!”

To top off a newspaper section that is, without a doubt, one of the greatest journalistic abortions of the year, there’s a story about a private school’s “Best Buddies” program which mingles disabled students with “college-bound students.” (Sorry, couldn't find a link to it on S-S site).
Did you say you want treacle? Cause I got some treacle for you:
“The chief goal is tolerance,” Lisa Huriash begins. “Then again, it’s also love. And acceptance. Really, all of the above.”
And let’s not forget vomitus. Lots and lots of vomitus.

Channeling DeFede

Wonder what former Miami Herald columnist Jim DeFede is up to these days? Well, things are crackling. On the airwaves. The man is on his way to radio and TV stardom. And his role model in the radio game?

Don Imus. That right, DeFede wants to be the Imus of South Florida.
But before I get into the latest news, let me give you the background on DeFede, just in case you've been living under a pier the past year: He’s the Herald (and former Miami New Times) columnist who was fired in July (my God, has it really been that long ago?) after he tape-recorded a conversation with Miami-Dade Commissioner Art Teele just before Teele shot himself in the Herald lobby. Since he was so well-respected in the biz, hundreds of journalists rallied for him. I still believe the hasty and cruel firing was an excuse to get rid of DeFede because he rocked too many boats, most notably Tony Ridder’s (see “Knight Riddance”).

Now he’s finalizing a contract with the Herald’s news partner, WFOR-Channel 4, to do three commentaries a week. That’s just about a full-time job. “I want to do with it what I used to do with my column in the Herald,” DeFede told me.

That means he’ll be riffing about politics and, if I know DeFede, digging up some breaking news while he’s at it. DeFede is also doing a Saturday morning AM radio show on 610-WIOD. I had the pleasure of being on the show Saturday, and we talked a bit about the Pulp during the segment. DeFede isn’t about spouting off some political ideology or party line. It is, as he said, “all about the facts.” Not that he doesn’t have some fun, too. DeFede happens to be hilarious. He spent a good deal of time talking about the recently deported Dorismar (see “Open the Door for Dorismar” below). “Give me your teeming masses, yearning to breathe free … but occasionally let one of them be hot,” he said.
He said it will be part cultural, part political, and all local.
“I want it to be like Imus,” he said.
If that goes well, and it certainly seems to be, the show will go to weekdays and DeFede will have completed the transition to the other mediums. God knows, radio and TV desperately needs first-rate journalists like DeFede to raise them up a notch. But that stuff also has a tendency to disappear in the ether once it’s aired. So I hope he finds a way to keep writing -- or at least documenting his radio and TV work for posterity -- while he conquers the airwaves.

Speaking of Dorismar
Casey Woods, the reporter who did such a great job telling the story of the deported Argentinian bombshell, is a “she,” not a “he,” as I reported below. The mistake was the result of general ignorance and perhaps a slightly sexist assumption. We apologize to Casey for implying that she possesses male genitalia and ask her to keep up the excellent work.
By the way, this is a bit of history, as it is the Pulp’s first correction. Hopefully there won’t be many more.
And we take this opportunity to restate our position on Dorismar: Open the door for her, America. Please.

And lest we forget, our story of the day is Jon Burstein's muckraking look at swindling charities, published on Sunday. It's just the type of reporting the Sentinel does too little of. It was a toss-up with this story by Brittany Wallman (my industrious wife, I should disclose) about the whitewash investigation of a cop accused of sexual misconduct. It includes the cop's claim that, no, he wasn't exposing himself, he was reading a magazine about "swordfishing."

I'll let you fill in your own snappy one-liner.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

why doesn't defede go back to Cuba, he loves it so much? Liars are trying to rule America right now and this is a real good example of it fucking leftist idiots. look at russia and nicaragua you shitheads.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Florida Pulp said...

We're going to start pulling BS comments like this one, you know, the ones written by illiterate lame-brains who sling cheap and anonymous insults.

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