Alligator Bites Dog

Categories: News

Jerry Berrios has a story in the Herald today about what she deemed "gatormania" in the light of the recent attacks. She included a line or two about a fatal attack on a mutt in West Palm Beach yesterday. "An alligator eating a dog is a common occurence," Berrios writes, "but during this time of heightened awareness, it attracted calls from reporters."

There you have it. The Herald deigns that alligator bites dog ain't news. Further, it lets us know that other newspapers feel the same way when they aren't in the grips of gatormania. Hell, the Herald is so cool about gator attacks that it buried the original story of the Sunrise death deep in the paper last week before realizing the next day that it was a front-pager.




Gator Bait

We know that one of those maniacal reporters was the Sun-Sentinel's Chrystian Tejedor. Tejedor wrote a whole story about the attack. The Palm Beach Post's Kevin Deutsch was another fever-stricken scribe. Read his story here. The Post even published a photograph of the puppy, Malibu, that was chomped (pictured here -- all together now: awwwwww). The truth is that it's not all that common. If you research the coverage, you find that Fido gets trapped in a gator's jaw about once a year. You figure that because the newspapers -- including the Herald -- generally cover it. Last year, a dog was nabbed by a gator in Weston. Both the Sentinel and the Herald had heart-touching little doggies stories about it. Evan Benn quoted the dog owner in his March 30, 2005 article saying: "This is about more than just a dog dying. It's about the safety of a community."

Yep. Let's face it -- when Spot gets devoured by a prehistoric reptile in the suburbs, it's worth at least a short.

Story Of the Day
It comes from "South Florida, U.S.A." columnist Nicholas Spangler for his ditty on city manager Joe Arriola's unofficial role as the courtside jester/lobbyist for the Heat. Spangler captures Arriola's hubris and pathos, but also conveys that, say what you will, the guy's a true fan. Sports events aren't supposed to be staid affairs like some stinking opera. They're participatory spectacles. And Spangler captures the spectacle that is Arriola in spectacular fashion.

The Fiedler Freakout
I was going to give you an opinion the debate about convergence -- the mingling of print journalism with mediums like the Internet and radio and TV -- being played out on Romenesko between Miami Herald editor Tom Fiedler and journalism ethics guru Ed Wasserman. But I'm having troubles with my own convergence. A post I spent considerable time on this morning blipped off my screen, never to be found again. I still have no idea what happened, though I am aware of the burning in my gut over the loss.

Anyway, my point was pretty simple: Fiedler freaked out for no good reason. Rather than see Wasserman's column as a warning for the ills that convergence could bring, he took it as a professional attack. The man admits he couldn't even sleep. Look, everybody knows that convergence is going to happen. It needs to happen. The true value of newspapers isn't being tapped. Instead, it's being trapped -- in an archaic, if still profitable, medium. But it's the job of folks like Fiedler -- e.g. leaders of the revolution in the daily newspaper sphere -- to make sure that the web and airwaves don't sap that value until there's nothing there, that we don't become so enamored of good soundbytes and pithy blog lines that good journalism gets lost in the clamor.

Fiedler, in his memo to staff, promises that isn't going to happen. Good. We'll see. But Wasserman's warning is still something that every newspaper editor in America should tack on an office wall as a reminder. Starting with Fiedler.


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