What I’m about to do might upset The Journal’s reporters and editors. I might even end up banned from the paper because of it.
But judging by the number of big stories that have kept newsrooms hopping this summer, I think it’s safe to defy one of journalism’s unwritten rules: never, ever point out that “it’s a slow news day.”
Journalists consider that a jinx. And if by chance someone seems close to actually saying it out loud, a quick thinking colleague will try to stifle it with a stern “don’t say it” admonishment.
We’ve got enough to struggle with most days without a feckless coworker causing a big story to break at the end of our shift, or even worse, at the end of a week preceding a few vacation days. There’s nothing like putting in some extra time when you’re looking forward to a few days at the beach, or in my case, not catching any fish on a trip to Canaan Valley.
Journalists don’t generally remark on this often (because it involves the “slow” no-no), but the arrival of summer seems to bring a corresponding lull in the news business. The breather might have something to do with laziness induced by heat and humidity, but I suspect it’s at least partly because newsmakers take vacations, too.
This summer, though, has been different. There have been so many big stories lately that I’m beginning to think somebody in a newsroom somewhere inadvertently let the “S” word slip, dooming the rest of us to frantic days, late nights, bad coffee and cold pizza.
The evidence seems clear.
Take the major stories of this week alone. We’ve had to buckle down to cover (a) the nuclear deal with Iran (b) the confusing twists and turns in the Greek Debt crisis (c) the controversial release of beloved author Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” and (d) the latest astonishing photos of Pluto that a NASA spacecraft has been sending back to Earth.
Being something of a space geek, I actually welcomed the Pluto pictures, but that doesn’t change the fact that NASA’s Pluto mission is among the major stories that are keeping journalists busier than usual this summer.
Other stories that have surfaced lately are simply head-scratchers. For instance, a few days before the Confederate battle flag came down in South Carolina, a colleague sent me a link to one about a Cabell County man who apparently was keeping two deer as pets – and not just in his backyard. He was allegedly allowing them INSIDE HIS HOME!
Clearly the deer story lacks the importance of a nuclear deal. But I still paid attention to it because it was important to me personally.
Deer are the scourge of my commute. And they are the scourge of my wife’s garden. When they are not stalking me as I drive to and from work, they are making a meal out of my wife’s daylilies.
The last thing I need is a couple of them staring at me while I sleep, raiding my refrigerator, lounging on my couch, hogging my TV and using my shower.
I’m blaming the deer story and the busier-than-usual summer on whoever let slip that “it’s a slow day” inside a newsroom – leaving me to worry about the next major story and, more importantly, whether deer prefer the toilet lid up or down.