Creative non-fiction in the newspaper
It seems to be my week for writing about the local newspaper. My last post criticized WalMart for trying to steal the newspaper's classified ad business. Tonight, I'm feeling critical of the newspaper.
I'm disgusted that, against my better judgment, I trusted the Kentucky New Era (KNE) about something that was completely wrong. Fortunately, it wasn't anything of grave significance. It was just a bit of local historic trivia, but I don't like finding boldly-stated errors in the newspaper.
Last February, I wrote a blog article about the First City Bank renovation in Hopkinsville. I mentioned that, according to the Kentucky New Era, the building was constructed in the late 1800s.
Let me quote. The KNE article states, "The old bank building was constructed in the late 1800s." (Source: "Architects hired for old bank renovation," by Jennifer Brown, Kentucky New Era, July 18, 2003, subscription required)
I wrote in my blog article that I was surprised that the building was that old because it looks more modern. I had always thought it might be from the 1920s.
My estimate was very nearly correct. A well-researched book I purchased today states that the First City Bank building was completed in 1930, following the merger of three local banks that had survived the stock market crash of 1929. (Source: Hopkinsville & Christian County Historic Sites by Kenneth T. Gibbs and Carolyn Torma for the Kentucky Heritage Commission. Published by Gateway Trust, 1982.)
That sentence about the building being constructed in the late 1800s is tacked onto the very end of the KNE article. Obviously, the writer, Jennifer Brown, didn't take time to check that fact. So why throw it in there, then?
Jennifer Brown was promoted about a year ago to deputy editor at the Kentucky New Era. She has received various journalism awards, and she has a master's degree in creative nonfiction.
I expect accuracy in the newspaper, That's not too much to ask, is it? After all, if the newspaper isn't trustworthy in the small facts, can we trust it on the big stuff?
I feel moved to share a strange-but-true story. About ten years ago, the Kentucky New Era ran a long, locally-written article about an Arab sheik, and they called him a "chic" throughout the entire story. It was too awful to be funny.
(Tomorrow is my day off. Maybe I won't be so cranky in my next post.)