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Friday, July 1, 2011

At the Oregonian, bleach cycle at touch of a button

The editors at the O can be a heavy-handed bunch, and we suspect they're behind this little gem. Here's how the reporter originally wrote the story:

Here's how the story was rewritten a couple of hours later:

Do you think that whitewashing change was her idea, or did the new spin come from up the newsroom chain of command? It's a familiar lameness from Portland's moribund daily newspaper. Pulitzer is spinning in his grave.

Comments (9)

News titles and captions are written by copy editors so this was most likely not Maxine's idea.

I also think it telling that KGW.com, KOIN.com, and PortlandTribune.com all have this incident featured (with a photo) as their top story this morning.

The only local news that buried it as a text-only link underneath a sub-section on the site by 6:45am? Oregonlive.com

It reads as if this is the first time PPB ever wounded a suspect.

The headline I would have written:

"Officer fires shotgun five times at man with knife, nearly misses"

Pulitzer gave up on the O a long time ago, as have many of the rest of us.
I notice that Mayor Creepy is on the scene trying to look thoughtful and involved. What a sham! I bet the cops wish he would stay in his office.

After listening to a police Lieutenant last night this isn't a mistake, it's a huge F**k up and that's what the news agencies should of changed the headline to.

They didn't just change the headline and caption, they changed the lede as well--originally she wrote that the officer "shot a suspect" and in the change the offer "fired live shotgun rounds at a suspect." Perhaps a subtle change, but intentional--"shot" tells you unambiguously that the guy was hit, whereas "fired...at" tells you only that the cop aimed and fired.

News titles and captions are written by copy editors so this was most likely not Maxine's idea.

The first two paragraphs have been changed as well. I think the headline and article were changed to reflect new information that was trickled out by the PPB (note the " . . . Portland Police announced about seven hours after the incident.")

If anything, I think the second headline and article make it clear what a clusterf**k this ammo mixup was (the officer should be thanking his lucky stars he was such a poor shot). Other police departments mark their less-lethal shotguns with brightly-colored paint to keep this very sort of thing from happening. Clearly someone at the PPB f**ked up big-time, as there are three possibilities as to why this happened, none of which reflect well on the PPB: a) live rounds were loaded into a shotgun marked for less-lethal use; b) the PPB does not mark its less-lethal shotguns or have some equivalent procedure to prevent this error; c) or the officer simply messed up big-time and almost killed someone.

I think the revisions change the emphasis from the whacked-out dude threatening people to the police screw-up, which is probably appropriate. Sadly, these days in Portland, a whacked-out dude threatening people is the mundane, non-newsworthy, "dog bites man" story.

"The Oregonian"? They're not approaching obsolescence -- they're propelling themselves into obscurity. Go by bullet train!

How does a cop fire 5 shotgun rounds and the dude lives???

That's one lucky dude and the cop is a lousy shot! He needs back to the basics training.

This is from Portland Indymedia:

Sorry if this posted multiple times - it said that there was a posting error, so I tried again.

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