Today is the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Charley, one of the most destructive hurricanes to hit Florida in recent memory and one of the only hurricanes to seriously affect Orlando. Appropriately, the hometown paper contains a feature story on the hurricane, its aftermath, and the outlook five years later. Now, the Orlando Sentinel (or Slantinel, as my husband likes to call it) has never been a paragon of excellence; it has not won any awards for quality. And in recent years, with about 2/3 of its staff being laid off, the paper has become something of a sad joke.
Just the other day, I was curious as to what time the space shuttle was landing at Cape Canaveral. Silly me, I thought the local paper would have a story about it. Well, it did, but it simply said the shuttle was landing that day and neglected to mention the time, which I found after a few minutes of searching on the NASA website. The story was a pathetic four sentences, something to the effect of: The space shuttle will land today after a 15-day mission to the international space station. Wow, what an overload of information!
Anyway, getting back to today's feature article. It contains this little gem: "Charley devastated this Gulf Coast community in 2004, crashing across Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte like an angry drunk swinging a billy club. Originally forecast to hit Tampa Bay, it sucker-punched Southwest Florida, making a hard right into Charlotte Harbor just before landfall."
An angry drunk swinging a billy club? Sucker-punched? While these sorts of descriptions might work well for a creative writing class, they seem just a tad out of place in a newspaper article. I only took one journalism class in college, and even I know that this is not newspaper style.
I know these questions have already been asked by people more important than me, but what happened to real reporting? What happened to our newspapers? All across the country, cities are losing their newspapers, and no one seems to care. Do we even need them anymore? In today's blog- and Twitter-filled world, are newspapers completely obsolete? Call me crazy or old-fashioned, but I would still rather read a factual account of an event in The New York Times than to watch a YouTube video or an iReport on CNN. Is it because I'm a writer at heart and have a soft spot for the printed word, or is it because at the advanced age of 28 I have somehow fallen behind the times?