Tuesday, May 1, 2007

A1: "Police look for men who sped away in Jeep"

I expect there'll be a followup to this clunky police-report filing by Mirsada Buric, since it raises a few very pointed questions among those of us who remember the carnage left by a high-speed chase into Prescott from PV a few years ago and the official excitement about (and big money spent on) regional dispatch facilities. From a writing standpoint, the paper had all day to work on this one, it shouldn't read like it was dashed off in the five minutes before deadline.


leftturnclyde said...

Left his Jeep running in the parking lot ??????
what did the guy expect?

courierfriend said...

Obviously the victim here is a victim of his own stupidity. Steve, have you ever written an article? I appreciate that you're trying to bring to light all of the Courier's errors, but don't appreciate that you call this article "clunky." After all, you don't know how long the reporter actually had to work on the story. Sometimes reporters hear about a story early in the day, but don't hear back from a public information officer until way later -- perhaps even minutes before deadline. If you ever spend time in Ms. Buric's chair, perhaps you'll learn that it's tough to get information sometimes, especially from people in the law enforcement business. Give the woman a break.

Steven Ayres said...

=> Steve, have you ever written an article?

Yup, a few, starting as editor on my high-school paper in the seventies, and as a pro writer and news editor for over 20 years now.

=> you're trying to bring to light all of the Courier's errors

If that's what you're seeing, I'm not communicating well. Error is the human condition. What I'm after is responsibility, both to the profession and to the public trust that a local daily holds.

=> it's tough to get information sometimes

Sure, but my problem is not with the amount of information, nor is it necessarily with how Mirsada put it together -- she probably had an assignment -- but rather how it comes to the reader. In this case the article is overloaded with pointless clutter that obscures the story, and the questions that naturally arise in the reader's mind are not answered. As for clunky writing, you need look no further than the lead graph.

Check the back posts and you'll find that I've often given Mirsada her props when due. I think she and her editors can do better than this, however.

mason lewis said...

Steve, if you are so good at writing how come we often hear you(r) little radio station doing a rip and read of Courier news? Some radio stations go get it for themselves, still others actually credit their source.

Steven Ayres said...

=> how come we often hear you(r) little radio station doing a rip and read of Courier news?

I'm not aware that KJZA offers any show involving news-reading. Certainly none of mine. You might hear the odd events listing on one of the music shows or something, is that what you mean? Or are you thinking of a different station?

shano said...

Have to agree that the Courier has a long way to go before I will ever buy a copy.

Why is Prescott so badly served by this local paper? (one of my resons for coming here, btw)

For example: went out with some friends last Friday night for the "Precott Art walk". Met a Gallery owner who gave the Courier a schedule for this LOCAL event-local businesses creating a tax churning event in the city of Prescott.

So, the Courier posts the Jerome art walk schedule, but not the Prescott schedule. No notice at all, even though the paper was contacted by local gallery owners.
Isn't there supposed to be a reporter to cover local events?

Are they not doing a complete disservice to Prescott downtown business when they are so incompetent?

Is the job of the Courier to report local news and events?
They fail miserably at both.

The Courier web site is EVEN WORSE. No information whatsoever. I had a heck of a time finding out a schedule for a dance event when a group of students came up from Phoenix one year.
They all spent money up here, yet the local paper had no information for them, on line or in print.
These are local events and should be in the local paper!

And the Courier is highly partisan. Which is the main reason they will never get any money from my pocket.

Steven Ayres said...

=> These are local events and should be in the local paper!

Complaints about the paper's event listings are epidemic among Prescott's art fartistas, and I've frequently experienced these problems directly. To be fair, that's a tough beat to get right, with hundreds of random messages coming in from random people all the time. The thing is, it can make the difference between breaking even and losing your shirt on an event, so it's worth some hard work to get right.

=> the Courier is highly partisan.

There's a pretty broad consensus on this around town, but not a lot of factual understanding to back it up. Investigating that is part of the reason this blog exists. I'm trying to look at the question systematically, and if the proposition doesn't prove out, that's fine. Either way it deserves a close look, because a local daily isn't just another business. It carries a constitutional responsibility to the people of the community to be a trustworrthy platform for both factual information and informed discourse to help make the voter smarter.

courierfriend said...

Okay, Steve, I spoke too quickly. Although I understand you're working toward improving the Courier (which, of course, needs improvement all the time), I think your time could be better spent as a stand-in proofreader on deadline. Have you ever called to offer your services so you can help improve each day's edition before it goes out? Maybe you couldn't improve on every aspect of the paper but I'd bet you'd be able to get rid of some "clunkiness."
On another note, I'm glad you recognize the arts beat as a tough one. In many cases, local gallery owners don't bother finding out who to send their listings to and then they seem to have a knack for sending those listings just after deadline. Then they blame the Courier for their economic shortfalls. Also, in many cases, readers complain that the Courier didn't run something -- but they actually just failed to see it because they didn't read the paper thoroughly.

Steven Ayres said...

=> your time could be better spent as a stand-in proofreader on deadline. Have you ever called to offer your services ...?

I've known Ben for years and worked with him on the arts council, and I have many times suggested in various ways that the paper should consider using my services. I'd have to be sold on getting involved, since a proofer or subeditor can't do a good job where the editor doesn't know or doesn't care, and I've got plenty of work of my own. I also doubt they can afford me. But the short answer is yes, and I've been ignored every time. It's hard to imagine a prickly longhair working for these guys anyway.

=> I'm glad you recognize the arts beat as a tough one.

I do, but I don't give it a pass. I recall vividly one instance where the Courier covered an event I was involved with and got every name, number and time right even though we didn't write it for them. It was a revelation, as it had never happened before.

Anonymous said...

Steve, if you care so much about the Courier ... and obviously spend so much time on this blog ... you should offer to proof for free. Your current employer would probably love it too.

leftturnclyde said...

anoymous strikes again!

courierfriend said...

Anonymous, that's what I was getting at. Steve, obviously the Courier can't afford the likes of you, but the time you spend on this blog could be better spent in the newsroom. While Ben is the managing editor, his duties do not require him to proof pages right before they go out. But you could do it!

Steven Ayres said...

=> better spent

That really depends on one's objective, doesn't it?

No reporter, proofreader or subeditor can have much effect on editorial bias or neglect. You may notice that I'm not here calling out every wrong comma and mangled clause. That sort of proof work is important to the quality of the product, but not to the public trust, and that's what people complain about, ultimately. They feel betrayed. Have you any idea how widely reviled the Courier is, left, right and center? It's not because of its proof errors -- it's a broad, deep feeling that the people who make it are unresponsive, irresponsible amateurs, and because this affects everyone in town to some extent, they greatly resent it. Don't trust me on this, just find people who don't know where you work and ask around.

So while the paper could certainly use a good proofer or two, it won't be able to keep them -- good proofers are both valuable and quality-motivated -- until it gets its editorial head straight.

As for the time spent on this project, it really doesn't take much. For me anyway, this is easy.

leftturnclyde said...

Its my belief that if it were possible to change the Courier from within somebody would already be doin it.
I think what this blog ( and those who post on this blog) should be doin is keeping the courier honest , to notice when a piece is slanted or appears to be slanted and to bear witness to it, To notice when there's something a little fishy about the way articles are edited or headlined,
To notice what is NOT being said in an article and bring it up, and most importantly, to ask why this is so.
and yes to notice when the dang thing has not been proofed properly.

Attempting to make your point ,that the Courier is wonderfull by calling into question Stevens credentials or suggesting that perhaps he could work for the Courier for free( never mind the sly dig about what his current employer may think ) is well ...kinda Lame init ? Besides which it does nothing to strengthen your argument that theres nothing wrong with the Courier

courierfriend said...

Lefty, I wasn't calling into question Steve's credentials -- he has far more than I do. And I definitely am not saying there's nothing wrong with the Courier. And it was anonymous, not me, who made the dig about his employer. I agree with Steve that the Courier is widely reviled (and I don't work there). And I believe this blog is a worthy cause, to help the paper better perform a service to its readers. Sometimes the way bloggers present their arguments is unnecessarily nasty and perhaps a little smug. Said bloggers often offer criticism but no solution. However, I enjoyed the example Steve made this morning (5/3) about the second filing regarding the stolen Jeep story. That was more constructive and nicely written.
And Lefty, "wonderful" only has one "l" in it.

leftturnclyde said...

wonderful" only has one "l" in it.

got me courierfriend I admit I am lost with out spellcheck...and um the statement sent out to the Blog in General not just at you .