Monday, May 28, 2007

Things to Make You Go....Hmmmmmmmm

What's the matter with the Springfield News-Leader? OK, too broad a question. Let me be specific: Why is the writing so bad? Here are some examples from the May 28, 2007 edition:

Sarah Overstreet's column about Chuck Wooten:

At a long table, not even a desk, former state representative Chuck Wooten sits, the phone near his elbow ringing constantly.

A Bible and a book of funeral services for many religious faiths are an arm's length away.

Nearby on a coat rack is Wooten's suit jacket, which he will put on in 30 minutes to walk to the committal shelter to help with a funeral.

Sometimes, he reads from both the Bible and the book of funeral services, at a family's request.

"A lot of the funeral directors know me, and a lot of times they'll call out here ... they'll ask me to say a few words and I will," says Wooten, now cemetery program representative for the cemetery. His job is to advocate for the cemetery with legislators, the Veterans Affairs department and anyone else who will listen.
Uh, what cemetery would that be, Sarah? Obviously, you are referring to a veterans cemetery. Springfield has two. Three paragraphs later (the EIGHTH graf of the story) Sarah finally tells us which of the two veterans' cemeteries in Springfield she means:
If it weren't for Wooten, who was a Republican state representative from Springfield at the time when state leaders began talking about how quickly our veterans cemeteries would be full, our Missouri Veterans Cemetery wouldn't rest on 58 acres of gentle, rolling hills of grass with young trees lining its paved roads, surrounded by mature trees that lay in the countryside around it long before it was even an fleeting idea in someone's mind.
The cemetery should have been fully identified upon first reference. Bad writing, compounded further by this:
Wooten introduced legislation to push the impetus for a cemetery here, among other Missouri sites. He thought it was on track. Then, one night as Wooten was in the capital about 10 p.m., then-Rep. Jim Montgomery, D-Cabool, stopped by to have a talk. "Chuck, I'm pulling Springfield out of the bill." Montgomery wanted a cemetery in Cabool.
Wooten took to the mattresses, marshaling everyone he could to lobby citizens, veterans and state leaders to choose Springfield as one of the sites for five proposed vet burial grounds.
"Wooten took to the mattresses?" What in blazes does that mean? I'm not a native Ozarkian, so perhaps this is some colloquialism I've yet to hear. But I doubt it.

I hope Sarah forgot to delete a word in the following quote:
"It's so beautiful that a lot of weekends I'll just come down out and drive through it," he says.
"Come down out and drive?" Another Ozark colloquialism? Or just poor editing? With Sarah, probably the latter.

Here's another story from the May 28 edition, "Water feature to be built at Smith Park." Springfield has a Smith Park, located at 1536 E. Division Street. According to the Springfield-Greene County Park Board web site, the park has:
1 lighted softball field, 2 lighted tennis courts, outdoor basketball courts, restrooms, horseshoes, drinking fountain, children's & adolescent's play equipment, open play area, picnic tables & grills, open shelters
So reading the above headline one might believe a "water feature" will soon be added to that list. One would be confused, then, reading the first graf of the story:
The Board of Aldermen agreed 4-2 this past week to spend up to $115,000 to pay for a new water feature for the Howard Smith Community Park.
"Board of Aldermen?" Springfield has a city council, not aldermen. The News-Leader did not include a dateline, nor does it ever identify the community to which the story refers. My best guess is Branson because of the second graf:
The water feature will be similar to those at Silver Dollar City and Celebration City, but on a smaller scale with 6 sprayers on a 30-foot-by20-foot concrete pad.
Is this really acceptable to the News-Leader? I'd be happy to identify the reporter who wrote this, but said reporter is not identified. Maybe "Larry Little's" (sic) friend Tony Messenger will convince the News-Leader's news room to quit printing/posting stories anonymously. Can't wait for THAT editorial.

Here's one from last Tuesday's (May 22, 2007) edition, filed in the "newspapers in education" section: Tips on saving money.

Allow me to quote the whole article:
Did you Know?
Did I know what? That article has kept me awake all week wondering what I'm supposed to know. And when will the News-Leader tell me?

Perhaps "they" don't want me to know, so "they" are keeping it a secret.

Paranoid? Me?