Monthly Archives: September 2008

Timeliness. Proximity. Ridiculousness.

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One day I’m going to write a letter to University of Maryland President C.D. Mote, or to undergraduate admissions or whoever crafts the classes undergrads are required to take for CORE and ask them to please please PLEASE add a class informing students about what makes something newsworthy.

Something newsworthy is something unusual or one of a kind. It can be an individual or group accomplishment worthy of county, state or national praise. It is usually relevant and affects a majority of people in one area. It is timely.

Examples:

(1) We’ve been asking our city council to install crosswalks on [insert deadly road here] for years but are refused every year. Last week a child was struck by a vehicle as he tried crossing the street after school. Does it really take someone getting injured to listen to our cries for help? = Newsworthy

(2) My dog shit a log in the shape of a crucifix. How soon can you send a photographer? Oh dear lord, hurry! It’s turning white! = Not newsworthy

Because this is “rantish” you can probably guess which one I get more of. I mean granted (2) is a bit of an exaggeration–and hopefully not even possible because it sounds painful as hell–but the frustration is still the same.

Once I was asked to cover a school day trip to the circus. A TRIP there. Not even what went on under the big top.

I never promised this teacher coverage–she wanted a front page spread by the way–but I did say I would accept photos of the kids at the circus. Later I realized I should have flat out refused any type of coverage because what I received was probably the most pitiful display of photography I have ever seen in my life. I’m aware a grade school teacher is no Herb Ritts with a camera but the last thing I wanted to see clogging my inbox were 20+ blurry photos of grade school kids walking across the street in the rain to a parking lot. They looked like they were scanned from a generic brand disposable camera and pasted into a Microsoft Paint file on a Windows 95 operating system.

I asked her if she had any photos of children INSIDE the circus, such as ones of kids petting monkeys, “oohing” and “aahing” at the trapeze act or crying hysterically from sheer fright of circus clowns. Apparently no flash photography was allowed inside. All I was left with were zoomed in faces of teachers and the backs of kids heads.

And she wanted a story on this. Oh you’ll get a story. If the pictures are any indication I’m sure it went like this:

HED: Kids hoof it to the circus

Subhed: School system says “no funds” to charter bus

Tigers. Lions. Bears.

These are all animals fifth-grade teacher Kathleen Codey wish she could unleash on her class to keep them quiet. Instead Codey tried desperately to calm down 30 antsy 10- to 11-year-olds excited to see those same animals at the circus.

Several classrooms full of students walked the mile down the road from their school to the One Ring Circus, which set up shop for three days in a nearby Bojangles parking lot.

After shouting at them for five minutes to shut up or she was going to count to 10, Codey finally lined up her class and led them out the door with the multitudes.

Perturbed that Principal Lee forgot to announce it was raining horizontally, Codey quickly dashed back for her umbrella only to accidentally brush up against sneezing student Da’Rell Whitaker. Codey shakes off the snot shower, swipes her umbrella and shoos the kids out the door.

“I swear to God if one of these kids gets their Section 8 germs on me…” Codey mutters under her breath.

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I could keep going–really I could because this is kind of fun–but I think I’ve said enough.

Now if you’ll excuse me I better get out of here there while that dog crap is still fresh…