[Breaking News: from another strangely irrelevant moment in our newsroom…]
While reporters are the heart of a newspaper, press releases are its lifeblood. Especially at community newspapers where, more often than not, the editorial “staff” consists of two or three people, depending on whose turn it is to scrub the commodes. Without press releases sent in from members of the community, there’s a good possibility our sources wouldn’t have alerted us that the Grange’s monthly Spaghetti Night had been changed to Fish Sticks Night, because Bob accidentally bought five gallons of ketchup instead of marinara.
At the same time, that lifeblood has the potential to cause an aneurysm. That’s because, in many cases, press releases are submitted by people who wanted to be journalists but, instead, chose a different career path, such as repairing upholstery. For this reason, one of our jobs as journalists is to remain resolute in spotting — and fixing — press releases before they go to print. Oftentimes it’s a simple fix, such as changing “pubic” to “public,” or clarifying the date of an event which, according to the press release, already happened a year ago.
Then there are cases, such as this morning, when you receive a press release with a headline so terrible that it takes all of your will — or at least mine — to NOT run it as-is. But considering that this was regarding a children’s theater production of The Little Mermaid, I felt it best to protect the innocent and not run this headline:
It’s Better Down Where It’s Wetter
Although if this had been an adult production, they probably would’ve had to add extra seating…