Struggling local papers will say anything to get readership

63dot

macrumors 603
Original poster
Jun 12, 2006
5,269
339
norcal
I live in a very small town and times are hard for local small papers, I get it.

But part of the good in the very few people we have is the low crime rate. Very little happens in the smaller towns in a rather unpopulated county.

But what got me angry over last two weeks is how the local papers "invented" a meth lab, which is usually a problem in larger populations.

First they report a meth lab in working condition where young, single men lived, but then after a day or two they say the only laws that were broken was that there were bottles of unmarked chemicals and no meth lab. Then a couple of days ago, the paper finally declares that while there were chemicals, they were clearly marked so no laws broken. WTF? I am sure more people read the papers these last few days because of the meth lab scare from a retirement community of 1,600 people, but when the truth comes out, the true colors of the locals papers show.

It's already pretty much believed by many that the two or three small papers that serve the area are a joke and prone to exaggeration, but this just really burns me. Why invent a meth lab based on what may be there before any facts of the case are in? When there's a shooting, before any facts are known, if it involves Hispanics, then they always say, "probably gang related". It either is or it isn't but don't say "probably" just get viewers to tune in. Too many times, a domestic dispute or other issue comes up and the paper has to correct and say it was not gang related. In the area that has more non-Hispanics than Hispanics, there is a tendency to make "Mexican" males the boogeyman. The racism is shameful but not unlike Donald Trump's narrative.

Do any of you small towners here deal with this type of incompetency in your local journalism? PS- Let's keep politics and race (and Donald Trump) out of it and make it a general discussion about yellow journalism. -thx
 
Last edited:

Skald

macrumors member
Oct 20, 2008
60
2
California
I live in a very small town and times are hard for local small papers, I get it.

But part of the good in the very few people we have is the low crime rate. Very little happens in the smaller towns in a rather unpopulated county.

But what got me angry over last two weeks is how the local papers "invented" a meth lab, which is usually a problem in larger populations.

First they report a meth lab in working condition where young, single men lived, but then after a day or two they say the only laws that were broken was that there were bottles of unmarked chemicals and no meth lab. Then a couple of days ago, the paper finally declares that while there were chemicals, they were clearly marked so no laws broken. WTF? I am sure more people read the papers these last few days because of the meth lab scare from a retirement community of 1,600 people, but when the truth comes out, the true colors of the locals papers show.

It's already pretty much believed by many that the two or three small papers that serve the area are a joke and prone to exaggeration, but this just really burns me. Why invent a meth lab based on what may be there before any facts of the case are in? When there's a shooting, before any facts are known, if it involves Hispanics, then they always say, "probably gang related". It either is or it isn't but don't say "probably" just get viewers to tune in. Too many times, a domestic dispute or other issue comes up and the paper has to correct and say it was not gang related. In the area that has more non-Hispanics than Hispanics, there is a tendency to make "Mexican" males the boogeyman. The racism is shameful but not unlike Donald Trump's narrative.

Do any of you small towners here deal with this type of incompetency in your local journalism? PS- Let's keep politics and race (and Donald Trump) out of it and make it a general discussion about yellow journalism. -thx
Did the newspaper itself say there was a meth lab, or did the reporter quote the police department? My guess is that they cited some police officer. Most small town newspapers do not have reporters with enough time or experience to investigate matters, so they do little more than skim the local police website, rewrite press releases, or ask the desk sergeant for the latest news. This failure to investigate is far worse, of course, with national media (witness the recent alarmist headlines about ISIS trying to buy uranium when it turns out there was no ISIS connection at all -- cable news is in such a hurry to not get scooped on "breaking news" that they report rumors and initial official statements and then add alarmist commentary). In my experience, small town newspaper do not have enough staff to cover most of the traditional local beats, e.g. planning board, zoning, education.
 
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63dot

macrumors 603
Original poster
Jun 12, 2006
5,269
339
norcal
Did the newspaper itself say there was a meth lab, or did the reporter quote the police department? My guess is that they cited some police officer. Most small town newspapers do not have reporters with enough time or experience to investigate matters, so they do little more than skim the local police website, rewrite press releases, or ask the desk sergeant for the latest news. This failure to investigate is far worse, of course, with national media (witness the recent alarmist headlines about ISIS trying to buy uranium when it turns out there was no ISIS connection at all -- cable news is in such a hurry to not get scooped on "breaking news" that they report rumors and initial official statements and then add alarmist commentary). In my experience, small town newspaper do not have enough staff to cover most of the traditional local beats, e.g. planning board, zoning, education.
They didn't quote anybody. For a day or so the locals who live near this house said things like that but soon found the truth and corrected everybody. Now it's a joke akin to the statement, "I didn't inhale". How marked bottles of chemicals can be a meth lab is a mystery. Does my lawn fertilizer in garage mean I am a terrorist with a Jihad base of operations?

The landlord who kicked the tenants out said he thought a meth lab was possible and cops said it was also possible, or more correctly couldn't disprove the landlord's worst fears, but that's a huge step from a working meth lab. There were no official statements to the press.

The tenants left a lot of stuff behind and left the place a mess, but supposedly removed every single piece of meth making gear but somehow left chemicals behind?

As to the unmarked chemicals, which in California breaks all types of environmental laws and is very looked down upon (players can't even chew that toxic tobaccy in baseball stadiums now, btw ;) ) but there were never any unmarked chemicals. They were marked, so then press had to correct themselves. I don't think any cops would be that dumb to say unmarked and tell press and if they did, then shame on them and not the paper.
 

Skald

macrumors member
Oct 20, 2008
60
2
California
A good reporter (and police officer) would have at least identified the chemicals. If they are common to meth, then we newspaper readers could understand the suspicion. Media! Every time someone forgets a bag at an airport, there are headlines like "LAX Evacuated! Anti-Terror Squad Rushed to International Terminal" -- and the net effect, of course, is that our hysteria seems confirmed. Years ago I would see local TV news saying (and showing) police removing "30 boxes of evidence" from a home or office -- but that was not evidence of a crime, of course, it was 30 boxes of stuff the police wanted to look through in case maybe they found some piece of evidence.
 

63dot

macrumors 603
Original poster
Jun 12, 2006
5,269
339
norcal
A good reporter (and police officer) would have at least identified the chemicals. If they are common to meth, then we newspaper readers could understand the suspicion. Media! Every time someone forgets a bag at an airport, there are headlines like "LAX Evacuated! Anti-Terror Squad Rushed to International Terminal" -- and the net effect, of course, is that our hysteria seems confirmed. Years ago I would see local TV news saying (and showing) police removing "30 boxes of evidence" from a home or office -- but that was not evidence of a crime, of course, it was 30 boxes of stuff the police wanted to look through in case maybe they found some piece of evidence.
I don't know why the cops didn't try to stop or reprimand the paper when they clearly stated, "unmarked chemicals" in a news story. The cops saw marked chemicals. That's a specific thing, and drug lab or not, it breaks laws in California.

But the official police statement says there were labeled chemicals, like HCL, but that doesn't even come close to a "working" meth lab, and HCL that is marked is quite different altogether than so-called unmarked chemicals.

There was an incident where a homeless man left a backpack behind and it was called a terrorist attack. Only in the papers here and would CNN or Fox News say that?

I think some in the media think that 9/11 gave them a green light to pad the truth and exaggerate facts.

The backpack was initially said to be left by unknown middle eastern man but turned out to be well known transient Caucasian man with blond hair.

It's as if the press here wants to get attacked by real terrorist but are delusional to think Al Qaeda would even care about a business two blocks from main downtown district in tiny town.
 
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OLDCODGER

macrumors 6502a
Jul 27, 2011
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Lucky Country
There was a time, many yarns ago, when newspapers would operate under the principle of:- five Ws and an H.

Prior to that, pamphleteers would print whatever lies they could - just to stir up the peasants. Seems that we have reverted to source.
 
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Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
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The Far Horizon
There was a time, many yarns ago, when newspapers would operate under the principle of:- five Ws and an H.

Prior to that, pamphleteers would print whatever lies they could - just to stir up the peasants. Seems that we have reverted to source.
As a passionate devotee of the sort of serious reporting - whether it be factual, political or historical reporting and analysis - that is governed by the tried and tested principle of 'Five W's And An H', I am at a loss to understand why such a valuable and useful format seems to have fallen into disfavour. Must be something to do with a misbegotten take on the whole idea of postmodernism…..
 

OLDCODGER

macrumors 6502a
Jul 27, 2011
924
382
Lucky Country
As a passionate devotee of the sort of serious reporting - whether it be factual, political or historical reporting and analysis - that is governed by the tried and tested principle of 'Five W's And An H', I am at a loss to understand why such a valuable and useful format seems to have fallen into disfavour. Must be something to do with a misbegotten take on the whole idea of postmodernism…..

Or, both writers and readers are now more concerned with "feelings", rather than facts, which tend to bore those who want to be "different".
 
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