I think my Bullshit Meter just broke.

You know a story has reached its saturation point when Mike Klocke has to devote a column to defending The Record’s coverage of it. Or did you forget the time he defended the ridiculous coverage of the 20th anniversary of the Cleveland school shooting a week before it hit newsstands?

This week, Mike Klocke does a better job than I did explaining how overwhelming the coverage has been. But apparently it’s all OK, because they..umm.. he never really says. Well, besides the fact that Tracy’s eating this shit up, and the Record’s the only daily paper in Tracy.

17 out of 19 days the Cantu coverage has been front page news. I’d guess at least 10 of those stories didn’t contain any actual news. But, beyond that point, no story should take up the front page for literally half a month. Especially one with as little information as this story has had. And on top of all that, the Record has (up until this column) pretty much ignored the fact that the Tracy Press scooped them big time with that Huckaby interview (not to mention they scooped Tracy PD).

All of that coverage of informationless press conferences and videos of outside the trailer park and all it took was a fucking phone call to break this case wide open. The Record’s hurling every resource they have to try and generate pageviews and sell papers, that they’re ignoring basic journalistic principles. You can shoot all the videos you want, follow the police department’s every move, and even present live coverage of a memorial service, but it’s all bullshit if you miss the fucking story.

It’s not about Tracy as a community, it’s not about some woman’s mental health, it’s definitely not about Tara fucking Cuslidge, and it’s not about The Record and how they’re better than other news outlets (mostly because they aren’t). This story is about a little girl who was fucking abducted, possibly raped, and thrown into a irrigation ditch. And yet here I am writing about the state of journalism for the third fucking time in relation to this story. Why? Because the Record decided to go the sensationalist route and tackle every single angle to this story but the one that mattered. You may remember it, it’s the one about a dead little girl.

Luckily, while the Record was using this as an apparent exercise in the future of journalism, a 22-year old reporter (22!?) named Jennifer Wadsworth was practicing the present journalism not only broke an honest to God story, she broke the fucking case open. Of course you may have missed that amongst the stories of barbecues, useless videos, and Twitter feeds of questionable taste.

And that’s why my bullshit meter is broken. Because when you cut through it all, the Record’s coverage of this story has been exactly like that of the national outlets Klocke was so ready to deride yesterday. The local touch is bullshit, because the Record didn’t use the local touch. They used the jackhammer so often used in national coverage. And in doing so they neglected the most basic principle of journalism, getting information to the people. Which, in hindsight might actually make them worse than Nancy Grace. I don’t expect shit from her, she couldn’t find Tracy on a map. The Record on the other hand should know better, they do cover Tracy all the time after all. Which is why Mike Klocke’s entire column Sunday was bullshit.

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~ by Slick Diaz on April 20, 2009.

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