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Monday, July 5, 2010

The Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Last week, I wrote on Facebook about a boy in our valley, Andrew, who had been battling cancer. I was Facebooking about Andrew because we have two local newspapers, both of which are crap by any journalistic standards, by the way, but one of them is far worse than the other. Stories always contain typos, their content is mostly advertising, their writing doesn't even remotely stick to any sort of Associated Press style. It annoys me, but whatever.

Anyway, last week this annoying newspaper reported on its front page that Andrew had died. But he hadn't. And I totally lost it. I was so angry. Can you imagine what that would be like for his family? I sent the editor an angry e-mail. How do you make that mistake? One visit to Andrew's CarePage would have told them that while he was not doing at all well, he was still alive.

I didn't get a reply. Surprise.

The next day, also on the front page, the newspaper ran a correction. The headline read: Andrew Claymon is not dead. I'm totally serious. Not: Andrew Claymon is still bravely fighting. Or anything with a more positive spin--or as positive as you can be when a child is close to death.

I about lost it. I wrote another e-mail telling them to fire whoever wrote that headline AND whoever approved it. In their second "story," the editor wrote about how they printed that Andrew had died because their heard it from a source "close to the family that they thought was reliable." How very National Enquirer of them.

The NEXT day, they ran a mea culpa letter about how awful they felt and how many times that had rewritten that "Andrew is not dead" headline. The fact that they rewrote it and yet STILL printed it is particularly hideous. Tact? Class? Apparently not something they considered.

They are such a crap paper that I suggested they just fold or maybe start following standard journalistic practics which call for sources to be triple checked. I must be so old fashioned.

At any rate, the sad ending is that 18 months after his diagnosis, brave Andrew passed away today of a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

I'm hoping the newspaper handles his actual passing with some sort of grace. I wonder if that's too much to ask for his family.

7 comments:

Kristie said...

Natalie, kudos to you for actually taking the time to send the e-mails. So many of us bitch and moan, but don't sit down and do anything ..... even though it certainly didn't change the outcome for that boy and his family, I can only assume that when the dust settles and they hear (or hopefully hear) that you went to bat for them and the disgusting way his story was handled, they will be comforted to know how much people cared.

Anonymous said...

That makes me boil too! Remember when an ALL kids' father died suddenly and the town paper took the children's photos from the caringbridge page and published them! And then told unsubstantiated facts about the death?! AND never gave an apology! Yikes! Nothing worse than incompetance when it involves death!
lMnop

Lucinda said...

That is horrible, disgusting, in poor taste, and any other adjectives you wish to use! I thought our local paper was bad, but I think yours takes the "prize" for poor journalism.

So sorry to hear about Andrew. Hug Finn extra tight today for us.

Joanne said...

Almost unbelievable! And still you gor no response to your emails? I had read it on facebook but did not realize it was a child. Somehow that makes it even more terrible.

Anonymous said...

That newspaper needs to get their act together, no you're probably right they need to just close shop. So sorry for the loss of your friend.

Getting caught up on your blog, which I enjoy greatly. I know exactly what you're talking about with the kids and their idea of fun and what was fun to us as kids. I remember some of those same games. I have a teenager who spends way to much time indoors. Loved your pictures from your trip.

Lynn

1dreamr said...

Good for you for taking time to email the paper about this... their actions were beyond irresponsible...

Elizabeth said...

Nat this is utterly dreadful. Even worse was the second one I think - bad enough the first! What complete idiots. That poor little boy and his family.