Wick Communications

Bypassing the better story

In Editing on 27 Oct 2016 at 2:01 pm


Let’s talk about the stories we don’t cover that perhaps we should.

Over the weekend, signs like the one you see above began popping up around Half Moon Bay, Calif. It’s election time, and, at first glance, the sign looks something like dozens of others around town. Until you look a little closer.

For one thing, “harbor master” isn’t a real elective office here. And a real candidate wouldn’t likely include a crude sexual reference on his campaign sign. Well, the word on the street is that the signs were a prank played on the local guy named on the sign. Just a practical joke. … One that everyone was talking about. Including those of us at the Review. But we didn’t consider it a “news” story. Until I did.

This week we are planning a story on that joke. Who knows, we may call the guy and find out that it doesn’t amount to anything. We may also find out there is a tale behind what was a pretty elaborate joke.

So, why didn’t I see that joke as a potential fun story to begin with? I think it was because we had our head’s down. Reporters had a full, busy week of process coverage. Government meetings, regulation battles, stories about ballot measures.

All of that is well and good. There is a reason we send a reporter to a Granada Community Services District board meeting, as dry as that sounds (and is). We need to follow the machinations of government, in part, so that citizens don’t have to because they know someone is watching these things. …

But the best quarterbacks call an audible when the situation requires it. Last week, I failed to change the play at the line of scrimmage and fumbled the ball.

I mention this to empower you to throw out your own plans from time to time. We all know a big breaking news story when we see one. It’s easier to miss something like this. If you hear something interesting around town, even if it’s a bit strange and not on any traditional beat, consider taking a run at it. The process stories will always be there.



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