The Formula

Let me introduce you to the family of Marine Lance Cpl. Shane Martin of Spring, Texas, and ask you to join me in apologizing to them.  It wasn’t enough that they lost a loved one—the 23-year-old Martin was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan last week—but now they join the ranks of the grieving who’ve been victimized by Houston’s Leading Information Source.

Actually, I commend the paper for running a story about local servicemen and women who are killed in war—it should remind us that our children are fighting a war, something many find all too easy to overlook these days.  But why, why, why does the Houston Chronicle have to keep running The Shot—

Martin family

Yeah, go up there and talk to the family, grab a few heartwarming anecdotes, then ask them to pose for The Shot: get them all lined up on the couch or a line of chairs, looking real sad like, and holding or touching the picture.


We’ve talked about this before—I can presume the family is unhappy about Martin’s death (if not, you’ve got a different story); it doesn’t help me to see them portrayed like victims.  I feel like I’m intruding on their grief.  But the editors run The Shot over and over again, sticking to the formula because then they don’t have to think.

Oh yes, there’s a formula…it’s different for print than it is for TV, or for radio or the Web, but they all have them.  On BBC4, they don’t mind explaining it.

C’mon, Chronicle, don’t let yourself become more of the butt of the joke.

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