What was the point of this?

The photo caught my attention when I read the story in Friday’s Houston Chronicle—as it was meant to.

Cade family

Now, I get it that when you run a story about some people, you want some art.  But do you ask these people each to hold a photo of their murdered relative?  What, like they all carry that around with them all the time?

Read the story, and what do we have: a man disappears, no trace; his family searches and hopes he’ll be found, but authorities identify a body as that of the missing man, who was the victim of a homicide.

The story is at the top of the local news section, and so I’m looking for the news.  It’s not that a man disappeared—that happened in 1988.  It’s not that a body was found—that happened in 1989;  and although the body was found only a few miles from where the man was last seen, the news does not seem to be that authorities couldn’t put two and two together, either.

The news isn’t that the body was just identified—that happened three months ago.  And the news is not that the killer has been found—no one’s been arrested; heck, the cops have no suspects.

The news here is…what?  Thanks, Houston’s Leading Information Source…all too typical performance.  Like the graphic for today’s business section story analyzing the local economy during the first three months of the year:

Chron Quarterly graphic

That’s right: the Q-U-R-R-T-E-R-L-Y.

The future of journalism…yesterday

I stumbled across this yesterday and haven’t stopped giggling.  This is a real book, circa 1965:


“The journalist enjoys good standing in his community. He is even likely to be held in awe.”

“The story that a reporter worried and sweated over will be read by thousands and perhaps millions of people who will be informed, enlightened or amused. … He has prestige and influence that most persons can never hope to attain.”

“The day may not be far off when a city editor will say to a reporter, ‘Check your space gear. You’re going to the moon.'”

This is about a half-a-generation before my time; the journalism I went into in the 1970s was kind of “All the President’s Men” with a touch of “The Front Page,” and then I added a radio station to it.  I wouldn’t have been intrigued by “Ward Cleaver covers the school board,” especially if that had been a true characterization, and I’m having a hard time imagining who would have been.

Just how innocent was this country 45 years ago?  Was it common practice to lie give kids such a sterilized view of the world they were moving into?

More frightening: do we still do it?  (Hey, you parents: whaddya say?)

Don’t believe me? Listen to the faithful

Not to harp on this, but read today’s Maureen Dowd column: after a pointed observation about how the Roman Catholic Church treats its female members, her religiously devout and politically conservative brother eloquently makes the point I was trudging toward a few days ago (“Desperation in a brown cassock,” 4/2/2010):

The church is dying from a thousand cuts. Its cover-up has cost a fortune and been a betrayal worthy of Judas. The money spent came from social programs, Catholic schools and the poor. This should be a sin that cries to heaven for vengeance.


The storm within the church strikes at what every Catholic fears most. We take our religion on faith. How can we maintain that faith when our leaders are unworthy of it?

Now, can he take it out to the course?

I almost liked the guy, and started to feel a little sorry for him—see what a friendly, honest performance can do for you.  If Tiger Woods had done months ago what he did today at the Augusta National Golf Club, his public image recovery would already be well down the road.

He didn’t provide details about “the accident” or “the affairs,” but he wasn’t asked for any of that, either.  He acknowledged having taken medication (for insomnia) but when asked if that was part of the cause of the accident, replied that the police investigated the accident and fined him $166; not exactly a direct response to the question.

There was only one place where he refused to answer at all: when asked to be specific about the medical condition for which he has, and will, undergo rehabilitation, he replied “That’s personal, thank you.”  Fair enough; he doesn’t owe us a peek into his private medical records.

The guy in front of the camera today wasn’t the same nervous twitch who stood in front of a blue curtain in his dad’s Navy blazer, or the impatient know-it-all watching the clock on those all-you-can-ask-in-five-minutes “interviews” last month.

Today, he came across as honest, composed, contrite.  He seemed open about his professional relationship with Dr. Anthony Galea and the TWoods Masters NCprescription drugs he had used, he expressed his concern about the media attention to his wife and children without scolding the photographers who take their pictures, and he smartly refused to take the bait when asked to speculate about why such-and-such thing happened.

He even committed some news, in matter-of-factly confirming prior injuries that weren’t quite public knowledge, which some day may lead to even more wonderment about what he achieved on the course given that he was playing hurt.

If you want to teach somebody how to deal with the news media successfully, today’s news conference and last month’s interviews are great examples: of what works, and what doesn’t.

Desperation in a brown cassock

Please cue Mr. Welch: Have you no sense of decency, Father, at long last?  Have you left no sense of decency?

I was saying “no no no no” to myself by the time I finished the lead of today’s story—at long last, Roman Catholic Church, have you no shame?  You can’t save yourself by claiming that the worldwide criticism you’re experiencing now is comparable to anti-Semitism; sorry, Rome, but it just won’t wash.

Jews were, and are, persecuted for being Jews; not for anything they did, but for who they are.

You are being “persecuted” for something you did, and are still doing: choosing not to take action—timely and appropriate action—to stop members of your organization—your employees—from committing crimes against children who weren’t capable of defending themselves.

Before this ends, you’re going to have to acknowledge that the priests who committed these acts are criminals, and the people who protected the organization at the expense of helpless children were wrong, and they need to be punished.

Even the most devout members of your club can see this defense as a pathetic tactic; keep it up and they’ll abandon you, and you’ll deserve it.