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And then I wrote...

by Dick Schilling, "Editor Emeritus"

... that since I have been retired for nearly 20 years from daily association with the profession, I feel the freedom to be critical of the written press from time to time.

One of the first things we were taught in J-school was to be careful not to bury the lede. That is, the most important things that happened at a meeting or in an event should appear in the first paragraph, answering as many of the who, what, when, where and why quintet as possible.

Tiger Woods played in a golf tournament in La Jolla, CA, his first action in some time. He finished well behind the leaders, maybe 28th or so. The Gazette Sunday printed a 15-paragraph story from Reuters news service, all about Tiger, and it wasn’t until that final paragraph that it was noted there was a playoff among three golfers for the tournament championship. The Register ran an eight paragraph article which mentioned nobody but Woods.

The Gazette recently ran part of an account from the Register about a bank robbery in Maquoketa and gave the correct pronunciation of that city, muh-KOH’-keh-tuh. A J-school instructor would have given the newspaper (not radio or TV) reporter or editor an “F” for insulting the intelligence of the reader.

That was not the case with La Jolla (la-hoy-ya) in the golf article.

I am not mechanically inclined. Because of that, I have the greatest admiration for those who are, and who make a good living because of that, without a standard college degree. I would not undertake projects that involve plumbing, electricity, small engine or motor vehicle engine work. That was reinforced recently when my old car required some major surgery. My first look at that engine convinced me of my wisdom!

Much to my Dad’s dismay, I did not share his fascination with automobiles. That partly explains why I did not secure a driver’s license until age 26. During four years at university and four years as a naval officer, a car was never required.

I never talked to my Dad about it, but family members said he may have been the second person in his home town of Alta Vista to learn to drive a Model T. They said at age 12, he would hang around the livery stable because his Dad did carpentry work there and sometimes even served as a farrier. The Model T was introduced in 1905, so ten years later for a small town in Iowa seems plausible. After a few residents bought cars from the livery/dealer, they say Dad would ride his bicycle to pick up the cars at the owner’s home or business place, (nothing was very far away in Alta Vista), drive it back to the dealer for service, then drive back and get his bicycle, for a bottle of soda. They called him Johnny Pop!

Relatives said he had his own car at age 16, and his parents shipped him off to his older sister’s care in Waukon because he was more interested in the car and the girls it attracted than he was in education.

I never asked about that.

P.S. - Spell check doesn’t know farrier. Does that date me?

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