What's up, doc, with the press release?

by

comment

There are two dirty secrets about the journalistic profession that many journalists don't like to talk about.

One, forget all those ideas about enterprising young reporters breaking the big story through good sense and gumption. That's the Woodward and Bernstein con. The truth is when a reporter writes a story on a big corporate cover-up or some other story of truly monumental importance, chances are there's a disgruntled insider with a stack of documents in hand who's decided to rat everybody out.

Two, a number of stories ideas come from press releases. For example: That story on Your Town, U.S.A., being named the hottest city in the nation, well, Old Guard men's deodarant conducted a survey and sent out the results to news organizations around the nation.

That said. An idea is an idea, and a good story is a good story. It doesn't matter where it comes from. However, when you're going to run a report "inspired" by a press release, for Pete's Sake, don't run the entire press release as an article without mentioning it's a frickin' press release.

Which brings us to this report from WCBD on a Butterscotch the rabbit:

Butterscotch, a pet rabbit found wandering a Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, underwent surgery today to remove a projectile that was lodged in his jaw. The surgery, performed by Dr. Jose Biascoechea of Birds and Exotics Animal Care, was a success, and Butterscotch is doing well. Dr. Biascoechea had initially hoped to be able to round in place, because of the risks of surgery due to the location of the injury. Unfortunately Butterscotch’s condition deteriorated, and the surgery became necessary.

Which oddly enough is just how a press release sent out by the Lowcountry House Rabbit Society goes:

Butterscotch, a pet rabbit found wandering a Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, underwent surgery today to remove a projectile that was lodged in his jaw. The surgery, performed by Dr. Jose Biascoechea of Birds and Exotics Animal Care, was a success, and Butterscotch is doing well.  Dr. Biascoechea had initially hoped to be able to round in place, because of the risks of surgery due to the location of the injury.  Unfortunately Butterscotch’s condition deteriorated, and the surgery became necessary.

From there on out, the press release and the report are more or less identical. You can read the rest of the WCBD report at the link about and the rest of the release release will be pasted below. Feel free to compare for yourself.

As for WCBD, nowhere in the online article does it mention that the report on Butterscotch is a press release. Yes, it mentions that it's from the "Newsroom," but exactly what does that mean? More importantly, what does the average reader think it means?

The Lowcountry HRS press release:

GUNSHOT PET RABBIT UNDERGOES SURGERY

Butterscotch, a pet rabbit found wandering a Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, underwent surgery today to remove a projectile that was lodged in his jaw.  The surgery, performed by Dr. Jose Biascoechea of Birds and Exotics Animal Care, was a success, and Butterscotch is doing well.  Dr. Biascoechea had initially hoped to be able to round in place, because of the risks of surgery due to the location of the injury.  Unfortunately Butterscotch’s condition deteriorated, and the surgery became necessary.

Someone shot the rabbit, named Butterscotch by rescuers, in the back of the head.  The projectile narrowly missed the spine and lodged in his jaw.  He and another rabbit, now known as Cocoa were rescued by a Mt. Pleasant resident, who had seen them running loose in her neighborhood.

How Butterscotch and Cocoa came to be wandering loose is not known. After witnessing them almost being hit by a car, the rescuer was moved to stop her vehicle and catch them.  This good Samaritan, who wishes to remain anonymous, posted flyers about the rabbits, but received no response.  She then contacted the Lowcountry House Rabbit Society, which assumed guardianship of both rabbits and provided medical treatment for them through the office of Dr. Biascoechea.

Butterscotch and Cocoa join several other rabbits recently rescued by the Lowcountry House Rabbit Society, who are suffering from various health problems due to abandonment, neglect, or outright, malicious cruelty.  Donations toward the medical bills are desperately needed.  Donations can be made through the organization’s website, www.lowcountrybunny.com.  Donations may also be made by checks payable to the Lowcountry HRS and mailed to:

Lowcountry HRS

PO Box 31405

Charleston, SC 29417-1405

The Lowcountry House Rabbit Society, a non-profit rescue organization, is dedicated to rescuing rabbits, who have been abandoned, abused, and/or neglected.  Its main goals are education, rescue, foster, and adoption.  All adopters are carefully screened to ensure as best as possible that the rabbits will have loving, safe and happy homes for the duration their lives.

Add a comment