God, I remember beat notes....and bully bitches....

Dateline: Tue 03 Feb 2009

Thanks to Jim Burns who sent the following story by Joe Strupp of Editor and Publisher, published Friday. Here's the essence: a bully bitch editor from the sputtering South Bend Trib is demanding each reporter write a very anal daily memo, describing what he/she did in a work span.

The editor's name is Virginia Black; her dictate was first published on Romenesko on the Poynter Institue (ethics) website. But here's a clue for Virginia: been there, done that. It's a spirit-crushing, totally f----d idea that will not work. All it does is breed resentment and waste valuable time. Um, try conversation...

Still, it's a trip down nightmare lane. The Star had/has people write beatnotes weekly; that was a lot of hogwash, too.

Here is Black's galling version of what such a daily note might look like. Permission granted to take a nap after reading it:

"'Checked e-mail; Checked logs at Mishawaka, county and South Bend; Responded to accident at Ironwood and bypass; Called Mishawaka Detective Bureau about child neglect case (records would not provide narrative since it is under investigation by CPS); Called Mishawaka woman struck Monday by hit-and-run driver while she was getting into her car; Wrote story on woman struck by hit-and-run driver; Placed call to Trent about two rape cases that were on log (he was not in this morning); left message. Called Humane Society of St. Joseph County to see if any animals were taken out of home in Mishawaka where elderly lady was living in filth surrounded by several full litter boxes; was told someone would be in contact. Updated productivity report; Spoke briefly with Trent about rape cases on log - appears to be teenage girl covering up for sexual escapades; Spoke with John Pavlekovich about concerns regard retirement story - presumably ironed everything out; Pow-wowed with Dave about year-end crime stories - I get homicides! -- start working on lead smelter reporting, call health dept. again, talk to lead director, no idea what I'm talking about; -- call IDEM local office, am transferred to regional office, leave message for public relations people; -- am asked to work on Goshen beating story; -- call Goshen PIO, discuss YouTube video beating; -- try to find number for YouTube mom, search phone books, internet; -- do web update; -- call Goshen schools superintendent, leave message; -- go to video bootcamp lunch; -- research YouTube beating posted by teens, leave message for national anti-Internet abuse lady; -- reach other woman affiliated with anti-Internet abuse, talk to about story; -- call super Intendent again, leave second message; -- go to 2 p.m. interview with judge Scopelitis, wait forever in rotunda because he's in hearing, finally leave and reschedule; -- call back superintendent, finally reach for story; -- find address for YouTube mom; -- write YouTube video story, file story; -- give graph to john stump for lead smelter story; -- Drive out to Goshen to try and find YouTube mom, get lost, turn around, find trailer park, can't find address, finally find address, family no longer lives there, drive back. Planning to come in around 9 tomorrow.'

"After that long list, she adds, 'The point is that there's some detail there - an editor can tell why a story took as long as it did, for example, and what's yet to be done - and it is forward-looking (I'm going to do a year-end story on homicides; I'm still making progress on that lead story).'"

Right. And reporters who spin this nonsense are the kings and queens of bullshit. Here's a novel idea: let reporters report, not kiss up...

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