Monday, September 10, 2012

Journalism 101

On my Google homepage, I have a box that presents three top stories from the Los Angeles Times that day. The first story today was about a woman having been bitten by a pet monkey.  Here's the article; it's not long

A Javan macaque monkey being kept as a pet and living on a diet that included Frosted Flakes and juice has been quarantined after it bit a Paso Robles woman multiple times on the hand and arm.
The monkey, which authorities said was being kept illegally as a pet, attacked the woman Aug. 29, inflicting several severe bites to her arm and fingers.
The hospital where the woman was treated reported the incident to San Luis Obispo County Division of Animal Services on Sept. 5, Animal Services Manager Eric Anderson said.
“This kind of animal is never meant to be kept domestically. It is illegal," Anderson said. "It lived on a diet including Frosted Flakes and juice. We strongly discourage the keeping of any such animal."
He added: "And that is entirely the wrong kind of diet.”
The monkey is now quarantined for 60 days at Zoo to You, a conservation group that handles rescued animals.
Anderson said the California Department of Fish and Game is investigation and has the power to seek charges against the monkey's owner for unlawful possession of a restricted species.
The macaque delivers a dog-like bite and can do severe damage, he said.
-- Richard Winton, LATimes 

In my brief stint as a Journalism major, we were taught the five rules, starting with answer Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How in the first couple of sentences and save the extraneous information for the following paragraphs.  Start with the relevant details, then fill in the things like "she was an avid swimmer."  And while the first sentence certainly answers those, putting the monkey's diet in the first sentence makes it seem like that is an important detail.  
What--was bitten
Where--Paso Robles
When--August 29th
How--by a monkey
Why--probably because they were feeding it fucking Frosted Flakes and it wanted meat.
In fact, the writer, as well as the Animal Services Manager, seem really hung up on what the monkey was eating rather than the woman's health.  Even the headline on the Google page reflects this:

I think they're missing the really important detail.  Frosted Flakes is entirely the wrong kind of diet for ANY primate, not just macaque monkeys.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Monkey crack!