Local newspapers tell your story

Published 10:54 am Friday, May 17, 2024

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Thanks to a high-profile criminal trial going on in New York City these days, people are learning about the underbelly of the “news” found in supermarket tabloids and a completely unethical practice called “catch and kill.”

Donald Trump’s trial on charges of committing business fraud when he allegedly paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about their sexual escapades and then claimed the money was for “legal expenses” has brought this to the forefront.

Out of the trial came testimony about how the National Enquirer would accept payments for killing, or stopping, stories they were scheduled to run that would have been harmful to someone’s reputation.

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Another term bandied about was “checkbook journalism,” or paying a person for their story.

It’s easy for people to believe the outrageous, and the National Enquirer has been happy to portray the unbelievable as a “maybe it happened” headline jumping off the front page and grabbing people by the arm while they were standing in the grocery store checkout line.

Their stories have for years gone to the heart of conspiracy theories, and not just those from those people who believe the earth is flat or contrails kill. There are those who are prone to ask themselves whether something outrageous might really have happened but it’s just being covered up. The Enquirer was there to tell people waiting in line to unload a week’s worth of groceries on the conveyor belt that there was new evidence of alien abductions, extraterrestrial crossbreeding and damaging UFO encounters.

People found themselves nudging along a head of lettuce while looking back over their shoulder to read a headline about a headless torso found in a topless bar, or these:

“Redneck Aliens Take Over Trailer Park”

“Hillary Clinton Adopts Alien Baby”

“Stevie Wonder Can See Again”

All of the tawdry stories posing as journalism have long been insulting to real journalists working for staid publications that merely tell the true stories of the less-than-sensational people who make up their communities.

In my 50 years of practicing journalism, as a reporter, then editor and finally publisher, I worked with hundreds of journalists ranging from Pulitzer Prize winners to daily obituary writers. During that time, I never saw a story killed. I never had anyone offer money to keep a story out of the news.

It just didn’t happen.

Community newspapers such as this one are committed to the simple, yet redeeming, value: telling your story.

Larry McDermott is a local retired farmer/journalist. Reach him at hardscrabblehollow@gmail.com