Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Crime of the Century (Spokes Person Division)

HONOLULU, Hawaii--"A 20-year-old man who tried to rob a man at a Kalihi bus stop Saturday night was arrested riding a stolen bicycle, police said." 
   This mystifying lede appeared in the first item of the "Police Blotter" in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser yesterday. The story went on: 
   "A 21-year-old man refused to give up his property at the bus stop at 9:45pm, police said.
   "He was then assaulted by the 20-year-old man, said police.
   "The suspect fled but was stopped a short distance away, riding a bicycle that had been reported stolen from a 57-year-old woman at a nearby store, police said.
   "The man resisted arrest but was subdued by officers, police said."
   The "Police Blotter" is endemic to newspapers in small communities. It calls to mind the sort of place in which everyone knows everyone and, when not on the job, the police chief sells used cars and trucks. 
   "Police Blotter" items often are written by the most junior member of a paper's staff. This person is learning, on the job, how to write in journalese, a language which resembles English not hardly a'tall. 
   For this bicycle-related item, the green reporter evidently wasn't aware that after noting in the first graf that police were the source of information ("... riding a stolen bicycle, police said"), he or she no longer needed do so. It is understood that all following facts derive from the same source unless otherwise indicated. 
   Still, our earnest correspondent showed a bit of flair in the third sentence. After twice writing "police said," he/she stepped out on a limb to write "said police." But reason swiftly reasserted itself. The nascent Hunter S. Thompson-esque rule-smashing newcomer once more prudently used the more conventional "police said." 
   That being said, we have nothing but good wishes for our intrepid if inexperienced reporter, even if he/she only exists in the fevered First of All imagination. To enter upon a career in journalism at this juncture in the Fourth Estate's enduring fadeout is brave beyond compare. Soon all journalists will be writing short pieces using sticks on leaves which they'll float down the river to the next village. But it will be called "Tweeting." 
   Oh, wait. Never mind.
   If it turns out our "inexperienced" reporter is in truth a broken-down alcoholic writing "Police Blotter" items in the final days of a long and storied career, well, so much the better. Good on ya, old-timer. You were there when dinosaurs roamed the land. First of All, a proud dinosaur, salutes you. 
   One last thing: robbing a man while riding a stolen bicycle? Seriously? 
   The burglars of yore would be aghast. 

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