… This Just In …



[Breaking News: from another strangely irrelevant moment in our newsroom…]

Oftentimes, finding “hard” news at a small paper is difficult. Unless Mrs. Schelpendorf gets rowdy at the Elks’ Yatzee party and assaults Mr. Schlependorf with a folding chair for spelling cleavage, finding hard news to attract readers requires being “inventive.” I use that word because it is the term our editor used during today’s editorial meeting to “encourage” us (I use that word because I am sometimes sarcastic) to find news that will sell papers.

“If it bleeds, it leads,” she said.
“What if it’s a nose bleed?” I asked. “I heard the mayor is having rhinoplasty.”
“If you don’t get out, you’ll need rhinoplasty.”

I decided not to ask if the new urologist in town specializing in erectile dysfunction would qualify as hard news. Instead, I went to work trying to find a story that would catch readers’ attention. It wasn’t until late this afternoon that I finally found THE story; something topical and riveting that would cause newspapers to fly off the racks (No disrespect, Mrs. Schlependorf). Following up on a press release I received from the Public Health department, I found out a bat with rabies had been discovered in a cave not far away…

A little scary, but not the kind of headline that's going to cause a fervor.
A little scary, but not the kind of headline that’s going to cause a fervor.

Before we go any further, let’s just get this over with: Yes, the town in the dateline is called “Noti.”


Sadly, it isn’t actually pronounced “naughty,” which would mean a “naughty” chamber of commerce, “naughty” police department, “naughty” motel, “naughty” residents, etc.

It’s pronounced No-Tie. Sorry about that.

But all naughtiness aside, it still meant rabies was within bat-flying distance from our town.

Scary? Sure.

A little.

It still needed more punch, which is where the power of single word can make all the difference…

Oops! Damn that Spellcheck!
Oops! Damn that Spellcheck!

If that doesn’t boost newspaper sales, I may have to see what I can instigate at the next Elks Yahtzee party…

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

37 thoughts on “… This Just In …”

  1. Two comments. First, I love Yahtzee, although I haven’t played it in years and I have never been to an Elks lodge in my entire life. Elks smell bad.

    Second, “I decided not to ask if the new urologist in town specializing in erectile dysfunction would qualify as hard news.” It would qualify as hard news if it lasted for more than four hours.

      1. I was going to try to come up with some witty quip about a proctologist, but then I figured, hey, you’re the humor columnist and you get paid for coming up with witticisms and could probably do it much better than me. So….

        1. Yeah maybe, except I typed urinary “track” infection instead of “tract” infection, which made it sound like the second half of a drunken competition at a sports bar. Sheesh!

  2. I don’t even know where to start on this one. I fell off the path as soon as I read about the urologist.
    I really needed to read this after having some heavy heart-it is post Samara and Robert’s excellent posts today.
    Ah…thank you for the laugh. Do I need to go to the ER if I’m still laughing in 4 hours?

    1. I’m glad I could help lighten your spirit a bit, not to take anything away from those two terrific posts. I’m actually at the hospital this morning for a pre-surgery appointment. If I hear laughing, I’ll know who it is 😉

  3. Perhaps a story where we realize the town IS actually pronounced ‘naughty’ and then the loads of fun that could be had! Think on it…then maybe you could actually interview the ‘naughty’ urologist about ED and take the minds off of the pesky Ebola bat. There are so many possibilities with just a small change in pronunciation…

    1. That’s a good point, Sandy. They might actually consider the name change as a way to boost tourism. Who wouldn’t want to stop in at the “naughty” visitors’ center for some naughty information?

    1. LOL! Except “Rabola” sounds like the dinner special at an Italian restaurant.

      “This evening we have a lovely prosciutto-stuffed Rabola in a Chianti marinara…”

  4. It’s hard-hitting journalists like you that keep our communities safe. I did not even know that keeping my garbage in secure containers would prevent me getting Ebola. Thank you.

  5. Never mind that this was funny, I’m just flat-out impressed when anyone can change a headline in a photo. I type things into an existing “platform” in wordpress or facebook or whatever or whatnot. I’m going to learn, though (computer skills, that is), so that I can photoshop me and Kate Beckinsale into the same picture, then post it to my actual wall. This comment had almost nothing to do with your post, did it? I liked your post. Our town of 20,000 or so has one incident each week where someone downtown gets drunk and does something really dumb. Other than that, or the occasional dairy worker missing his home 2000 miles away, then committing drunken-driving suicide, there is no hard news, lasting 4 hours or longer or not, and cheerleading the local college is about all the paper can do. Well, that and the occasional humor column.

    1. You know, our town only has half that population but we still manage to keep up with the same dumb-incident ratio as bigger towns and cities. I didn’t make that up; it’s our tourism slogan.

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