Thank goodness for small town newspapers. What’s left of them, anyway.
I once read that a small town is a place where everyone knows what everyone else is doing, so the only reason they read their paper is to find out who got caught.
More importantly, small town newspapers are usually staffed with writers who either are just getting started in the journalism business, or who have decided they want nothing to do with the bigger presses. Either way, they haven’t yet been indoctrinated into the school of reporting I’m going to call “journospeak.”
I’m not sure if journospeak comes from ‘having seen it all’ and developing shortcuts for reporting on the same sorts of stories over and over again, or whether it’s just laziness. But you hear it all the time. For example, no matter where in the world they are taking place, wars `rage.’ They never just stomp around in a bad temper, they rage. Likewise, jets never just fly overhead, they scream. What they are screaming, I don’t know.
As every one knows, there is almost always some sort of conflict going on. Every day, one hears about a riot, or political protests, or a shooting. Yet announcers, perhaps in an attempt to make today’s round sound more interesting, insist on prefacing every report with “this is the worst violence since…”
There are numerous other examples. Police, for instance, are always making grisly discoveries. Personally, I had no idea we had so many bears running around loose, and I think it’s high time we did something about it. Protestors out on a cold day are always going about “braving the elements.” There could be a total of three snowflakes on the ground, but the protestors are always brave.
Canadian journalists seem to have a fixation on weather analogies. We refer to “a hail of bullets,” or the fact that “bombs were raining down on the countryside.”
On the financial side, deals are always forged. This usually brings to mind an image of some anonymous accountant, sleeves rolled up, glasses reflecting the light of the fire, pounding away on a two-foot thick document with a hammer.
Granted, there is a reason for the way journalists talk. They have to be succinct, and to the point. We certainly can’t have them talking excitedly about a bloodbath in terms of “oh gross, there’s lots and lots of red stuff all over the place!” However, it would be nice if they varied it, and maybe gave us some depth in their reporting. At least half of the dissatisfaction people feel with most “mainstream media” coverage is that it’s shallow, clickbaity, tries to evoke negative emotions, and doesn’t provide any background or explanation.
I’m not sure why small town papers don’t get clichéd writing. I’d like to think that it’s because small towns don’t normally have things like war zones, crime wave,s and serial murderers. Reporters don’t have a chance to get jaded and blasé about such nastiness.
On the other hand, I suspect it actually has a lot do with the fact that things that happen in a small town simply don’t happen in other places.
Take this incident as an example. A livestock trucker had stopped somewhere in a town, and parked the vehicle for a few minutes. An enterprising pig in the truck, finding itself alone with a loose board on the side, hopped out. What followed was a rash of swine sightings, ending with a quick capture early on a Saturday morning. Yours truly was called out for a photograph of the porker.
“You want me to come out and take a picture of a what? In where?”
Nope, it’s pretty hard to become jaded as a small town reporter. There are just too many surprises. And thank goodness for that.