In recent weeks some readers have expressed concern that not all of the stories in the newspaper come to a satisfactory conclusion.
In fact, they’ve complained that the stories don’t conclude at all – simply fading away without benefit of closure or even a period.
Other stories, readers grumble, are “continued” to a nonexistent newspaper page.
For some reason, they say this makes it difficult for them to determine how a story might have ended. They’ve even gone so far as to imply that we might have made a mistake after a story dribbled off the page in the middle of a sentence.
And, I might add, piffle.
What the average newspaper reader doesn’t realize is that our hardworking team of journalists is constantly striving to improve the newspaper that lands in the driveway every morning.
The infrequent newspaper stories that don’t exactly go anywhere aren’t mistakes – they’re improvements.
Not long ago, we realized that many of our readers simply weren’t being challenged by the newspaper. After all, everyone already knows how a Vacaville City Council meeting usually ends – Mayor David Fleming and Councilwoman Pauline Clancy pull four pre-selected pithy comments from out of a concealed fish bowl, fire a couple of random verbal volleys and then fade into the shadows. Sometimes the city attorney muffles a sob.
With our improved, endless story format, readers will have an opportunity to sit back, sip their coffee and let their own creativity provide a satisfactory ending to what might appear, at first glance, to be an incomplete narrative.
Think about it, how many times have you looked at a newspaper story, shaken your head and said to yourself “Hey, I could do a better job than that…”
Well, now you can.
Here’s how a typical newspaper story about a lease agreement ended a few weeks ago:
“Assistant City Manager David Van Kirk said it’s too early to tell which agencies might benefit from the largesse. The city probably won’t receive the money until late next year.”
Just what you’d expect from an assistant city manager.
If, however, we break off the story at “The city probably…” and give our imaginations free rein, the possibilities are endless.
For example, “The city probably will be sending out specialized teams of heavily-armed mercenaries to secure the funds if the cash isn’t in hand by late next year.
“In the past, Vacaville has been able to offset such periodic funding shortfalls by establishing temporary toll roads in the unincorporated county area just outside the city limits. Mobile ‘Monte Vista-Monte Carlo’ gambling casinos also have proven to be fiscal lifesavers, despite incessant whining from the Solano County District Attorney’s Office.”
See what I mean? A real improvement.
The next time you find a story in the newspaper that doesn’t end or simply leaps off into space, feel free to write your own ending and mail it to me at: The Reporter, 916 Cotting Lane, Vacaville, 95688.
If it’s weird enough and won’t get me fired or arrested, I’ll try to get your ending reprinted right here.
That’s 30, amigos…
Originally published December 17, 2000