Thursday, November 09, 2006

Deep Throat gets a tonsillectomy

The Daily Advertiser has an article on Donald Rumsfeld's resignation as Secretary of Defense. Can you find the angle that makes it fit for an episode of TRL?

As word spread Wednesday that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was resigning from his post, residents expressed surprise at the move, which many locals said they believe was politically motivated. [...]

Trent Donohue of New Orleans said he believes that was a main reason the secretary decided to resign. "I think it was a 100-percent political move," Donohue said. "There's really no question in my mind that the election had something to do with it."

Bill Campbell of Lafayette said he also believed the resignation was at least partially due to Tuesday's election results. "Somebody has to go in those kinds of situations," Campbell said. "That's just the way politics work."

Campbell said while he likes Rumsfeld personally, he didn't agree with his handling of the war in Iraq. "I think we should have gotten out of there a long time ago," Campbell said. "We should have left after we captured Saddam (Hussein) instead of trying to stay there and rebuild the country." [...]

Mike Gallagher of Lafayette said Wednesday afternoon he still was surprised at the announcement. "I'm not sure of the reasons behind it, but I am disappointed that he resigned," he said. "I don't know if it had anything to do with the elections or not, but I was really surprised when I heard about it. I think he did a great job."

The only possible way I could be happier with Rumsfeld's resignation is if Pat Tillman came back to life and took his place. And I'm not surprised that Rummy has his apologists, especially in this (red) neck of the woods.

But the elephant in the newsroom (puns intended) is this: who are these people? Why were they chosen by the reporter to comment on this story? All we have to go upon are their names and general locations: Trent Donohue of New Orleans. Bill Campbell of Lafayette. Mike Gallagher of Lafayette. You mean, the Mike Gallagher? Come on now...

Couldn't they at least offer us a glimpse into what they do and why their opinion holds weight? And why these three men are special enough to represent an entire diverse community? For all we know, Amanda McElfresh went down to her apartment complex's laundromat and interviewed whoever happened to be folding their Jockeys. It's practically a rite of passage for all budding journalism students to find sources this way; but one of the year's biggest stories certainly merits less-random quotage. How about a veteran or a military recruiter? Or, perhaps, one of the numerous soldiers that The Advertiser has profiled in recent years? Somebody whose quotes will resonate with the reader? Or whose quotes will resonate, period?

While in college, I wrote a piece about the possible relocation of the New Orleans Saints. This was around 1999-2000, when Tom Benson's gripe was that New Orleans wasn't doing enough...for him (weren't those the days?). My sources included: 1) direct quotes pulled from a Benson press release; 2) one of the "Golden Boyz," a rabid group of Saints fans who were frequently shown on TV during games; 3) a random friend of mine who thought Benson should do anything that would make him more money. The story received a low grade, primarily because my professor considered the sources "too weak." And, I'll admit, they were; but at least most of them had marginal ties to the story.

My advice to all journalists: Remember Rule 13!

1 comment:

Phillip said...

I found that piece especially befuddling also. The Shmadvertiser impresses me less and less every day. And have you noticed how, lately, this oft-cited "liberal" publication (despite having endorsed Boustany) publishes nothing but right-wing commentaries on its opinion page? The authors' names are given, and places of residence, bus aside from that I have no idea who these people are. Today's "columnist" is supposedly in the petroleum industry. Surprise surprise. If it were softer I'd consider it, but these days I wouldn't wipe my ass with the Advertiser.