Monday, April 19, 2010

Whoa, Wait, What? Where's the News?

On April 13, 2010, the Iowa City Press-Citizen online posted an article entitled, "Robbery, home invasion reported." Obviously, the story was about recent robberies and home invasions in Iowa City. The problem with this article was that the story was not really news, or rather news in the form the Press-Citizen provided.

First of all, when I read the headline, I was confused. Isn't a robbery and a "home invasion" ultimately the same thing? Just to double check, I checked Basically, to sum it up, a "home invasion" occurs when a burglary takes place "while the residents are at home;" and a "robbery" usually involves violence of some form during the burglary. I understand the slight difference; however, the headline doesn't really give me a story. A home invasion and a robbery aren't particularly uncommon things in Iowa City. There really isn't an angle. Maybe a headline that took a more investigative approach would have been better. If this following statement is true, something along the lines of, "Police: Robberies highest in decade," or something that really gives readers more information than just "Robbery, home invasion reported." This is more of a statement than a news headline or story in itself. This would have been better suited to a little blurb on a police blogger.

When it comes to the actual story and information, the article was a bit dry. The information is interesting, but the reporter didn't seem to do any work to get it. The article reads like a police report because it just says what allegedly happened. The reporter did no crafting to this article--it read like word vomit. It was strictly informational and therefore heavy and boring. Even with a story about robberies, a reporter can still frame the story in an interesting way to keep readers reading. Reporters need to do their jobs so that readers can do theirs, i.e. reporters need to do some reporting, rather than vomit up information given to them.

Along with this, the article has no interviews or quotes, not even from officers. The story obviously came from a police report or something. If this information was given to me as a reporter, I'd have found it interesting--so interesting that I wouldn't just vomit up the information, I'd attempt to actually report on these incidents. Interview people, see if there's a real pattern, go deeper than the obvious. There is no real news value because no reporting was done by the "reporter."

Editorially speaking, I want to know why the races of the robbers were included. I could see it being important if officers are still looking for the suspects. But in all of the robbery examples, the reporter notes the suspects' races, but he does not elaborate on the alleged victims' races. There were also photos attached to this story. The last robbery example gave the alleged suspect's name, though the reporter declined to give his race. This is important because the previously mentioned suspects were described in detail.

All-in-all, this story was really disappointing. I wish the reporter had actually done some reporting before this article was published online.

No comments:

Post a Comment