You Gotta Love Local News

You have to love small town newspapers. Where I live isn’t even all that small, and the local paper is still unintentionally hilarious.

Recently, The Capital (often referred to as “The Crapital”) wrote a story about an elderly woman (we’ll call her Lazarus) who was found blue and apparently dead on the floor of her home. The woman remained on the floor for an additional three hours while authorities notified her family and officials of her death. (And, presumably, made a sandwich and watched some Judge Judy re-runs, because it doesn’t take three hours to make three calls.)

Mrs. Lazarus then proceeded to spring back to life, like “sloth” from the movie Seven, much to the embarrassment of officials on the scene.

The whole thing was clearly an ill-handled affair, from the officials on the scene, to the Capital reporter who hasn’t quite figured out the difference between reporting and just writing down ever tiny detail she hears.

Some quotes:

“Thinking (Lazarus) was clearly deceased, the officers did not check for a pulse.”

What the hell, she’s blue and on the floor, why risk pulling a back muscle leaning over to take a pulse? Just in case the family needed some evidence to fall back on for their lawsuit, The Capital was there to hear the officers’ confessions, as they blithely detailed their unwillingness to check for a pulse.  Didn’t the cops hear the first rule of Criminally Negligent Club is you don’t talk about Criminally Negligent Club?

An employee of the anatomy board arrived, and upon showing the poor woman the slightest amount of attention, heard her take a deep breath and saw her move her arm. This miraculous moment was captured in print:

“I shouted (her name) and she responded with ‘Arrgghh.’ ”

Seriously? She woke up as a pirate? Even if the examiner said that exact sentence, as the reporter, do you write it verbatim in the article? Did she ask for a spelling on “Arrgghh?” Maybe the poor old gal really said, “Arrrrrgh” or even “Errgh.”

“Medical privacy laws kept local hospices from confirming or denying that (Lazarus) is a patient, preventing The Capital from locating (Lazarus) for comment.”

Sure, that, and a complete lack of investigative talent. I would have loved to have heard the lady’s comments though.  Think of all the questions you would have for her, like: Is she more pissed about being left for dead by her supposed saviors, or that her son:

“…had made arrangements with the State Anatomy Board to donate her body for science.”

Whoops. Maybe she wasn’t supposed to know that part. I hope she doesn’t get the paper at hospice, or I think someone might have just lost his inheritance.

But really, the highlight for me was the description of the neighbor’s day.

Though sad about the news, (neighbor) took her daughter to play in a field hockey game. After the game, the (neighbor) family sat down for dinner. They were eating when they saw the State Anatomy Board van pull in front of Johnson’s home.

Everyone knows you get on with your life when a neighbor dies, but really, no one needs to know the minutia of someone’s day, even if you kindly write “though sad about the news” before you describe it. By the time I digested that description, in my head it read more like:

“Though sad about the news, the neighbor attended a toga party where she won a impromptu  dance contest after her boyfriend from high school broke out Young MC’s ‘Bust a Move.’ After a quick stop for a movie and a piece of pie at Applebee’s, the neighbor returned home, where she practiced bass guitar and did whip-its until she saw the coroner’s van pull up.”

The description of the neighbor bravely soldiering on through her day is followed by:

The police report indicates that the two officers who responded to Johnson’s home did not check for a pulse when they found her.

Just in case you missed it the first time. Hopefully, the son wrote that down for his lawyer the second time, having just lost his inheritance thanks to the whole “donating mom’s body to science” fiasco.

By all accounts, (Lazarus) appeared deceased, the report says. The Capital is not disclosing all of the details that led police to make this determination.

Why exactly aren’t you disclosing? For crying out loud, I know what the neighbor had for dinner and every guttural noise the old woman made.  If you legally CAN’T disclose details, that’s one thing, but if you just WON’T – well, you’re just a tease.  That’s like a doctor saying, “You’re sick, but I’m not going to tell you what you have. Guess. Come on… guess.”

At least later that week The Capital added their own scathing opinion piece on the matter, ending with:

The police chief has got to make sure nothing like this happens again.

Now THAT is a brilliant deduction.


Amy Vansant

4 Responses

  1. Lisa Moose

    Laughed out loud and snorted (one of my less attactive traits) while reading this post.

    The town where I live also not small, but the newspaper is ridiculous. I actually boycott our local paper and prefer to know nothing about what is going on in my community. One of my favorite headlines was…Haircut prices increasing. Front page. I’m quite sure there were much more important things going on in the world.

    Thanks for the giggle snort. Also living without kids.


  2. Nancy LeBarron

    I also enjoy reading small town papers for laughs. Especially the “police blotters”. In Harford County where two different reports stated that a woman had called police to report that she came out to her car in the morning to find “peanut butter smeared toast that had been attached to her entire car”…..BREAKFAST! And a woman in Aberdeen who called police to report that she had “purchased some crack cocaine, but when I got it home I found out it was just baking soda so I want that dealer arrested for selling me fake drugs”. Also a report of a fight in the parking lot of The Jitney Jungle supermarket in West Point, MS where the drivers of two delivery trucks got in a fight and “Coke hit Pepsi in the chin, then Pepsi hollered at Coke and told him to move his truck out of the way because he was there first”. Just the facts, ma’am…..just the facts…..


    • Amy Vansant

      PB Toast attached to her “entire” car? Like a car made of peanut butter toast? Sounds like heaven to me… Unless I came out and it was covered in Kit Kats – even better.


  3. David

    I love stuff like this. I too don’t watch the news so much. We live abroad so all our news is international, essentially this means it is the worst stories from around the globe rather than just one country. I frequently seem to get the gist of what’s happening in the world from watching Conan and Jay Leno rather than CNN and Al Jazeera.



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