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.