Thursday, March 4, 2010

Local Paper Copies, Doesn't Cover Conviction

On Tuesday, March 2, 2010, Mark Becker was convicted of killing small-town football coach Ed Thomas in June 2009. The jury announced its decision around 10:30 a.m. and the Iowa City Press-Citizen updated its Web site with the information in a story posted sometime that morning. The strange thing about this posting: it is not from the Press-Citizen; it is an Associated Press story.

This struck me as odd for several reasons. The case is a big deal, considering it's been covered by ESPN, The Huffington Post and CNN, along with other publications in the state of Iowa, of course. A person would think an Iowa City newspaper would have published something about it on their own, not relying instead on an AP story. Not writing it themselves is lazy. Even though the Press-Citizen isn't as close to Allison (where the trial was held) or Aplington/Parkersburg (where the shooting occurred) as other news organizations, it certainly is in the same state. Why wouldn't they cover it? Making a few phone calls to get the story is better than giving readers a story that some other publication wrote. The story was written well, obviously, since it's from the AP, but the Press-Citizen definitely should have written their own story covering the jury's decision and conviction.

Also, there were no photos to go along with the article. How does a publication not have a photo to go along with a big trial's results? That is lazy and lacking.

The Cedar-Rapids Gazette is merely 30 minutes or so north of Iowa City, and they not only covered and wrote about the trial themselves, they did all this. They trumped the Press-Citizen over about five times. The Gazette has "updates," multiple reaction videos and photos, as well as the conviction story on the same Web page. Creative coverage is always better than copied coverage.

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